Of drugs and rice
BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - June 9, 2016 - 12:00am

With the top leadership projecting the mentality to “shoot to kill” drug lords and pushers, the assumption is that this will percolate down the line to the police ranks and “pseudo” agents of the law.

Ergo, there should be a significant drop in number of drug lords and pushers as they are terminated – unfortunately, with some people sacrificed as “collateral damage” along the way.

Under this scenario, and as crime and drug problems are “eradicated as promised,” the incoming administration should then, hopefully, have time to focus on the sector that will provide life and sustenance to millions of Filipinos  —  agriculture, particularly on the issue of rice self-sufficiency.

Now, more than ever, with the worsening weather conditions, government should put an end to all the dilly-dallying about supporting our rice farmers and start putting the Philippines squarely on the map of being a self-sufficient rice-producing nation no longer dependent on imported rice.

Reader Oscar Violago on “lifeblood of agriculture”

In reaction to our columns discussing the ills of the agriculture sector and the need to focus on rice self-sufficiency, Oscar Violago sent an email with the subject of  “Irrigation — lifeblood of agriculture.”

Violago is known in Nueva Ecija as the “father of the Casecnan Multipurpose Irrigation and Power plant,” a project he conceptualized and convinced private investors to build at total cost of $680 million.

I’m sharing some on his thoughts about irrigation (with some minor editing). Here goes.

“Without irrigation water, no matter how good the farmers are, they cannot do anything during the dry season, which is the best time to plant because there are no destructive typhoons to reckon with and plenty of sunshine which is the food of palay, allowing farmers to harvest two to three times more compared to planting during the rainy season.

Build dams

“Solution: Erect low and high dams wherever possible. The $680-million Casecnan Multipurpose Irrigation and 150-megawatt Power project is composed of two low dams, a 26-km 6.3 diameter tunnel diverting and delivering enough water to Pantabangan dam, enabling it to irrigate 137,000 hectares in Nueva Ecija throughout the year. 

“This is why even when almost the entire Philippines has dried up due to El Niño, Nueva Ecija farmers can plant and harvest twice a year, making their smiles up to their ears.

“… high dams should be built to greatly minimize the damage to agriculture due to flash floods during the rainy season, release the stored water during the dry season to the farmers for their second high value crops, and also produce some power. 

“And if ever there is a need for government to subsidize it, then so be it. It is better to subsidize our own farmers than indirectly subsidize foreign farmers through our rice importation. We cannot forever be importing rice.  We must attain rice sufficiency for our food security.

Without water

“We can talk of farm to market roads, certified seeds, land reform among other things, but without water during the dry season, there is a no way we can attain self-sufficiency in rice.

“Also, if our farmers become richer due to their double crops, they will buy more food, clothing, housing, better education for their children, etc. Starting the agri-industrial revolution in our country is the best way to uplift the lives of our poor people from poverty to prosperity.”

Another reader on inorganic fertilizer

Another reader, Cayetano Santiago, sent an email with a comment on my column in support of rice self-sufficiency. Here’s what he wrote:

“First of all, I salute you for your very comprehensive review of the problem of rice sufficiency. Only one thing concerns me  —  that’s about modernization, not about mechanization, although as an 87-year-old man, I enjoyed riding carabaos in my growing up years. 

“My big concern is the use of inorganic fertilizer because of its long term effect on the soil. Its use may help us achieve sufficiency in the short term, but in the long term, it can be disastrous.”

Team Pacquiao joins CWBL 2016-2017 season

Bobby Pacquiao, brother of elected Sen. Manny Pacquiao, and Joe Ramos confirmed the participation of the Pacquiao group of companies in the maiden season of Country Wide Basketball League (CWBL) Philippine Basketball Championship.

The team will represent General Santos in the nationwide commercial league to give local fans a rallying point as the regional competition heats up. Both team managers are aiming to form a team composed mostly of local talents that will be competitive, and will give the basketball fans of General Santos a team to be proud of.

Team Pacquiao will be competing against the team of FilOil Flying V of the Villavicencio group of companies, the teams of Michael Lluillier and Jose Soberano III, both from the province of Cebu and Soy Mercado’s Anak ng Laguna.

CWBL is a nationwide commercial league in partnership with ABS-CBN television network. All games of CWBL’s Philippine Basketball Championship will be played at various localities and will be covered “live” by television for nationwide telecast thru ABS-CBN Sports + Action channel.

Key officials of CWBL include Coach Jose Lipa, Jr. as vice president for Basketball Operations responsible for team participation, venue selection, coordination with ABS-CBN television for game coverage, and other aspect of operations.

Atty. Pablo “Boy” de Borja is the League commissioner responsible for overseeing the implementation of league policies and procedures as discussed with team owners and their representatives and subsequently approved by CWBL Board of Trustees.

Facebook and Twitter

We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us at www.facebook.com and follow us at www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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