Protect local agriculture first

Protect local agriculture first

It is the best way to ensure our self-sufficiency in food, improve our productivity, recover the integrity of our ecosystems, and protect the lives of our people.

For now, I find it frustrating that our markets are flooded with imported food, goods, basic spices, and even sugar products. While our small farm growers and retailers are sidelined, contenting themselves with smaller and cheaper food items.

Big malls, big food chains, and convenience shops now dominating major cities and district centers, are consolidating everything from our agriculture, engaging contract growing farms, dictating prices and items, and all this they do in systematic, synchronized, and programmatic systems from financing, production, processing, and packaging to marketing.

Worse, they are changing the food and consumption habits of farmers, workers, and a greater number of consumers.

Even our small sugar planters are angry at lower and erratic farm gate prices of sugar, while big sugar traders have been enjoying high sugar prices in their controlled wholesale and retail outlets.

The government’s excessive reliance on imported food and goods and the export of our rich resources, such as mineral and marine resources, have been damaging our agriculture-dependent economy.

Like his predecessors, the Marcos Jr. administration is heavily reliant on imports, dampening local supplies, stifling domestic agricultural production, and rapidly damaging our agricultural productivity and food self-sufficiency.

The proposed National Land Use Act by pro-ruling administration legislators threatens further our agriculture by pushing for liberalization of lands and resources and encouraging more mixed land uses, which will open the floodgate to more land use conversions and reclassification to non-agricultural uses.

Its other moves are palliatives and do not address the root causes of our agricultural backwardness and underdevelopment.

The big agri-business plantation farms, agro-industrial plants, and mining companies occupying vast tracts of land and ravaging our resources further destroy our lands and agriculture.

The local government units (LGUs) in cahoots with real estate developers and big business corporations' relentless massive conversion of our prime agricultural lands for high-end subdivisions, entertainment hubs, and other non-agricultural and mixed uses further hurt our agriculture.

There is an urgent need to protect our agriculture, rehab our ecosystems, and improve our productivity by investing in more sufficient irrigation, drought-resistant crops, and climate change adaptive and sustainable farming techniques that will ensure our agriculture’s higher productivity, sustainability, and resiliency.

But who and how will this be done? With people in power apparently contemptuous of public interests, the only effective way to push for the protection of our agriculture and pursue development thrust away from the export-oriented, import-dependent, and debt-driven policy is to painstakingly educate, organize, and mobilize the broadest sectors possible, especially the marginalized organizations and communities and the well-meaning citizens and policymakers, and concertedly work for people-oriented agriculture and rural industrialization, alongside the advocacy for good governance that is sensitive-responsive, inclusive, transparent, accountable, lawful, sustainable, and smart.

I don’t know of other means.*


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