What ails Philippine agriculture?
(The Philippine Star) - February 9, 2019 - 12:00am

I empathize with letter writer Antonio Claparols in his envy of the people of Japan who are disciplined and hardworking. We can never be rice self sufficient if the mentality of our leaders in the agriculture sector remains what it is, only words without action.

I had a friend who was then manager of the NFA Baguio City. One time, she went to oversee the loading of Vietnamese rice for our country. She was in awe to see the very good production of rice in Vietnam. She queried from some officials, “What is your secret that you have good and bountiful rice harvest?” ANSWER: “don’t you not know that our agriculturists here are schooled  in your country?” The IRRI in UP Los Banos, Laguna?

Accordingly, she was ashamed of the truth! but she continued her query. The Vietnamese official continued, “Our agriculturists who graduated in your country works directly on the fields with high salaries in order for them to apply what they learned!” Our agriculturists are employed by our government with low salary and works inside offices? 

I also stayed in Japan for a week and I envy them. True, there is NO idle land! There I saw solar powered water pumps to irrigate upland rice fields and gardens. Here, I never saw a solar water pump operated by the government. I am privy to NIA projects which are absolutely sub-standard! I once heard on radio a Senate hearing and was shocked to know that 50 percent of infrastructure funds go to repairs of irrigations and 50 percent goes to new constructions?

There are thousands of hectares of idle lands in Bulacan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Viscaya, Isabela, Cagayan, etc. Why not develop, irrigate, with simple housing 100 hectares per site then bring these informal settlers/squatters around Manila Bay and relocate them there? Put one or two graduates from UP Los Baños agricultural schools to guide them? Maybe and maybe in 10 years time, we would be rice self sufficient? and maybe a little bit at par with Japan! – Juniper Dominguez, Sabanan, Mountain Province

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