The problems that farmers are facing and the possible solutions that the government and the public sector can do is the center of the forum hosted by the Asian Development Bank. In this forum, the program manager for sustainable agriculture of Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) talked about the problems that are plaguing the farming sector.
The truth about Filipino farmers is that they have been starving and dying. It is not an April Fool’s Day gag that everyone hoped for. On April 1, 2016, a farmer was shot dead while 13 others got wounded in Kidapawan City. It was after thousands of farmers protested and demanded 1,500 sacks of rice from the local government.
The 3,000 farmer protesters were affected by the drought which plagued their area in Northern Cotabato and as ironic as it seems, farmers were starving and worse; which is not an unusual scene in the Philippines.
According to the representatives of the farming sector who participated in the 2016 Asian Development Bank Food Security Forum, problems such as climate change, low prioritization from the government, and land reforms are just some of the many problems that farmers in the Philippines have been experiencing while panelists during the forum discussed the solutions to the problem of food shortage in the region.
Also, the Kidapawan Massacre is a representation of the ugly truth in the country, but the unnecessary shedding of blood could have been avoided if the issues in agriculture were properly addressed.
We ask for your love & support
According to Jonjon Sarmiento the program manager for sustainable agriculture program of the Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA). The solution to the problem that we are facing should start from loving the farmers and giving due importance to them. Your support and love are what they need because if there are no farmers, there will be no food and no future.
Although agriculture is responsible for 10% of the country’s Gross Development Product (GDP), and the third-largest employer in the labor sector, farmers in the Philippines are not considered as the pillars of the country’s economic growth and development. The agrarian sector still remains as the poorest in the country, resulting in starvation of farmers and the disinterest of young people to engage in farming as a means of livelihood.
Effects of climate change
The forum addressed the importance of farm planning to help equip farmers in the Philippines for both storms and droughts and that climate change is the number one challenge to everyone in the agrarian sector. These are done to ensure that they can easily cope and rebuild their farms once these are destroyed by strong typhoons but unfortunately, the majority of them still lack information about this and despite having a lot of technologies for the agrarian sector, these cannot cope with climate change.
The event that happened in Kidapawan City is a perfect example of the problems that climate change brings to farmers. Sarmiento proposed to have a rainwater facility during summer season and crops that could withstand the heat for farmers in order to avoid what happened in Kidapawan.
Lack of land access
One of the longest problems that farmers in the Philippines have is the lack of access to agricultural lands. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) did not entirely solve these problems because of the many loopholes in the law that resulted to thousands, if not millions, of farmers left with no land or freedom to till their rented lands.
Second, farmers in the Philippines don’t have their own land which is a failure of the farming sector in the Philippines because the majority of the agricultural lands in the country have absentee landlords and it limits farmers from maximizing the land, limiting the production of many crops as possible.
Lastly, Sarmiento cannot emphasize enough that the farming culture in the Philippines is disintegrating and young people do not even show interest in farming anymore. Even those who live in provinces aspire to go overseas or work in a Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) industry.
What we do not realize is the importance of farmers to the country’s food security. We do not realize the story from a town in Central Luzon where a 72-year-old farmer gets up before sunrise every single day to provide us the luxury of an extra cup of rice every meal.
If only farmers were prioritized and given enough significance, then the economy of the Philippines may have boomed long ago. The Massacre in Kidapawan could have been avoided and farmers would get the respect they deserved because there is nothing to fight about if only society loved their farmers.
Are you interested in supporting different advocacies? Join us at www.artdesignforacause.org where we feature arts and designs for a cause.