“We’re a blessed nation because we can grow our own food and, therefore, we’re secure. A nation that can feed its people is a nation more secure.”
This quote from the late president of the United States, George Bush, is an irony that perfectly describes the situation of our country today. The Philippines is primarily an agricultural country with 30 million hectares wide of land area, 47% of which is agricultural land. Ideally, this must translate that we are capable of producing our own food and thus, likewise be able to provide security to our own people. However, in the current paradigm existing in society, why is the Philippines struggling to provide food for its own people?
The agricultural sector, in fact, still faces numerous concerns in the way of its progress; over the past six decades, both internal and external bottlenecks constrained its performance and growth. Only recently, the lifting of the ban on imported rice and the implementation of the rice tariff has been set in motion. This just means that the private sector can now freely import rice from a foreign business without any concern for limitations. This exigence leads us to a dilemma between the benefit of the private sector, and the pressure exerted on the agricultural industry, specifically municipal self-sustenance farmers.
Tayong mga pinoy ay natural na matipid. Bakit pa tayo bibili ng mahal kung meron namang mura? Sapagkat, ‘wag nating pakakalimutan ang mga kapatid natin na sa pagsasaka na lamang kumakapit. Kung may paraan man, ito ay dapat kung saan tayong lahat ang makikinabang.
Inclusivity. I believe that our growth as a nation is also measured by how much we help those in the hems of society. Although we should not deny the average man of the opportunity to avail cheaper commodity, we must also recognize that our local farmers will suffer due to people picking the cheaper product. In the middle of all this, it seems that both sides must find a common ground to compromise, not just for the benefit of one sector, but of both parties.
There are battles in the sidelines that are as equally important, if not more. Battles that don’t get as much coverage or media attention but the outcome of these battles decide whether we, the human race, survive or perish. It’s time we wake up and recognize that the daily battles of the oppressed and the marginalized are our roaring battles, too.
To answer the question, “why choose an agriculture-related platform?”, here is my answer: to become a doctor of the sea, a lawyer for the fisherfolk, a champion of the future. This is the battle that I choose to sign-up for, this is the cause that I wish to champion, this is how I will change our lives.
Ito ang magiging paraan ko upang mabago itong mapait nating kasalukuyan; magiging paraan natin.
by Francis Gideon Tagnong & Divine Angela Serag