On NEDA’s “Plant, plant, plant”

The recent pronouncement of NEDA Secretary Balisacan to boost local food production is to “Plant, plant, plant,” a program that they seemed to perceive as the magic bullet to solve the growing food insecurity of the country. However it is off the mark with its recycled action plans that never really boosted the country’s food production. Erstwhile Sec Dar depended so much on food importation killing local agriculture. The past six years showed the lackluster agri performance indicated in high food prices and undernourished millions of Filipinos

We in SIBAT that promoted and trained farmers on agroecological farming systems suggests that the department should instead consider this long-tested farming systems to boost food production. Various groups networks and practitioners all over the world have shown that agroecology is the way to ensure food security and farmers income. But the call to adopt this has always fallen on deaf ears. Agro-transnational corporations perpetuating the use of chemicals and hybrid seeds and importation policy under the neo-liberal economics has greatly deteriorated our agricultural productivity. During pre-election debates, candidates lamented the sad state of the country’s agriculture and vowed to strengthen the sector. But most harped on technocratic solutions without considering solutions to the socio-political problems that beset the industry like genuine land reform, farmers rights and appropriate subsidies.

There is a need to use the 20Billion budget to promote Agroecology. Utilize organic fertilizers instead of chemical fertilizers and harmful pesticides, and use improved organic varieties than hybrid varieties. It will ensure not only the sustainability and increase of production but also to protect the degrading soil fertility of production areas. We understand that the government should address the rising inflation immediately. However, we also need to look at the future of our agriculture in the country. AGROECOLOGY is the key.

Lastly, We do hope that the program will be implemented with sincerity especially budget allocation that should really benefit our farmers and not end in the pockets of corrupt politicians like the previous fertilizer scams.

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