Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Food security and agricultural sustainability should be election issues

By 2020, says the National Statistical Coordination Board, our population will probably hit 110 million, with about 67.5% belonging to the working class, and we will be mostly middle-aged people. Obviously, you need to feed these humongous number. How do we do that?

Importation, says the dumb witted among us. The answer really is the development of our agricultural sector. And the sad thing is---global warming is threatening agri production.

El Nino, which is a sign of the worsening heating up of our planet, is now upon us, earlier than usual. This freak natural phenomenon wreak havoc efforts by our farmers to increase their yields. Imagine if this dry spell gets worse and prolongs its stay in the Philippines? We need to be ready and prepared.

There are three important crops which we need to be self-sufficient: rice, corn and sugar. Unfortunately, we still import rice, inspite of us, having a rice institute which comes up with studies and researches about the breeding of rice and distributes that knowledge around the world. Government says, we will hopefully be self-sufficient in rice very soon.

Actually, the best answer is simply regulate rice by disallowing traders from participating in importation and let the government the sole agency allowed to import.

On our corn production, things are getting brighter by the minute, thanks to the adoption of new and modern agricultural methods in raising corn.

In a forum up North, specifically Cagayan (49% of Cagayanons are involved in agriculture) which is directly affected by El Nino phenomenon, Dr. Gabriel Romero, Monsanto Philippines Regulatory affairs head says when the Philippines adopted agricultural technology, corn production has increased. He says:

" We achieved self-sufficiency for corn in 2012 through the sustainable agricultural practices of our farmers. The adoption of these modern practices have steadily increased crop production in the country."

Romero shares farmer testimonies about better yields, almost 100% profits and long term benefits of the use of modern agri practices.

" These modern agricultural practices are a bright spot in the local industry that needs to keep shining" says Romero.

The expert says there is a need for modern methods in agri cultural practices to be able to keep up with the needs of feeding 9 billion people by 2050. The urgency of the task cannot be overly glossed.

" This means we need to find better ways of producing food and to find solutions to feeding out growing population. We need to conserve our resources and at the same time, help our farmers improve their quality of life and maintain the quality of their produce."

Well said.

Candidates for the presidency and the vice presidency better listen and make food security and sustainability one of their key if not top priority by 2016.