Thursday, April 3, 2008

THE OPINION MAKERS AND THEIR EFFECT ON THE COUNTRY

Watching the news and listening to the radio, I can’t help but feel bad that the opinions of the people of this country are being shaped by the loudest and angriest voices, but not necessarily the most sensible people in this part of the world. In my not so humble opinion, TV and radio commentators should only be allowed to tackle issues that they are competent of handling. Otherwise, they are simply leading this country into oblivion.


LET'S TAKE FOR EXAMPLE, THE SUPPOSED RICE CRISIS

I cannot believe that leaders of some groups are spending so much time asking the government to admit that there is a crisis and angrily demand for subsidies even after such was already given. I also find it hard to believe that radio commentators and TV personalities give this people so much air time.

And this administration, wanting to score brownie points, announced a whopping P5 billion in rice subsidies. Despite that, the foul mouthed leaders of farmer groups, never to be satisfied with any move from any administration, angrily demands for more. Actually, what I heard from a radio interview made no mention of the government declared subsidy. They simply demanded (angrily) for subsidies, subsidies and more subsidies as the cure. Subsidy in the form of cheap fertilizers, cheaper seeds, etc? That’s very stupid, if one will analyze the issue.


LET'S GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT

At this point, all we have is a speculation of a crisis. As for the shortage, we’ve known that for a long time. Isn’t that why the government imports rice? But so far, rice can be found and we are yet to hear of empty shelves anywhere in this country. This freaking shortage is nothing but speculation until the stores start closing. When I last checked, all the retailers have goods to sell.

Declaring that there is a crisis, even when the supply is still sufficient simply leads to panic. Didn’t we just experience a hike in rice prices after the activists and the opposition declared that there is a freaking crisis? That's what we have now, a price increase. As for the stocks, it remains full.

And what is farmers' main basis for their LOUD DEMANDS for subsidies? They declare that there are a lot of them (rice farmers). In fact, they claim that they are the majority in this economy. Of course, that is not true. In fact, that is a blatant lie.


QUESTIONS

But before we continue, let me ask, where will the government get the money to subsidize them come from? Tsk tsk.. Agriculture contributes only 14% in this country’s GDP with rice comprising a small portion of that. If that’s the case, the government will draw the subsidy from the rest of the agriclurtural sector, the Services sector (which contributes 55%) and the industrial sector (31%). Is that fair to all concerned?

It is a fact that prices increase every year. Our population also increases annually. Therefore, our demand for rice will keep increasing. Does that mean that the government should keep on allotting more and more money as rice subsidy?

Do we subsidize them til the end of our days? Aren't this farmer leaders ashamed to demand for dole outs?

My parents own rice farms making us a farming family, but damn us all! We’d rather force ourselves and everybody else to eat camote and bread than live on other peoples dole outs!


ANALYSIS

My dear opinion makers, never forget what will happen that as soon as the government stops subsidizing the farmers. They will die.

Stop the foolish subsidies and teach them how to increase their efficiency. Teach them the ways of high breed farming and other good farming practices. In addition, irrigate their lands and build them farm to market roads. It will further increase their yield and amplify their capability to bring their produce directly to the end users. That will not only increase the income of the farmers and decrease the rice prices; it will also annihilate the greedy traders in between.

These farmer leaders do not want to even think of helping their people. They are quick to reject the use of high breed rice simply because it will require them to buy seedlings every planting season. Never mind that it will greatly increase the net profits of the farmers. For them, the Holy Grail lies in government subsidies, subsidies, increased subsidies and never ending subsidies! Those leeches!

Give the farmers subsidy and let the rest of the country suffer. By the way, isn’t it that the rice farmers also eat rice?

With rice farmers comprising a mere 25% of the labor force and contributing only 14% of the GDP, what do they think will happen?

Will it be a good policy to have a happy 25% and a starving 75% of the population? Wait a minute, will subsidies make them happy? I seriously doubt it. These leaders do nothing but teach their people to complain.


SOLUTION

If the rice farmers really want to improve their welfare, they should develop their production methods. For one, it has been proven that high breed rice increases their net income. They should go all out for it. Never mind the traditional variety for it will not disappear. Its seedlings will always be preserved and used by specialty farms. There will always be a demand for it. Let the rich plant and pay for it.

As for the government, if it really wants to help its people, it should use the P5 billion in rice subsidies in building irrigations and roads. Farm-to-market roads in the lowlands cost less than a million pesos per kilometer; in the uplands, it is between P1.5 million to P2 million (per Km). The P5 billion will build 5,000 kilometers of roads in the lowlands and 3,000~4,100 Km in the uplands. Now, that will surely bring down the cost, not just of rice but all other things coming from the provinces.

The government should also allow the free for all rice importation and the reduction of its tariff to 3%. That will lead to lower prices and sufficient stocks. It will also force the hoarders out of business and everybody will be happy.


CONCLUSION

The solution is not in subsidies. A subsidy is nothing but a dole out. Once it stops, the farmers will die. There is a saying,
“Give a man fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you give him food for life”.

8 comments:

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi JC,

There is a looming crisis in Rice. Our uncontrolled population growth, thanks to the Catholic Church pressure, keeps up the consumption levels. Poor harvests because of inadequate inputs that the farmers cannot afford plague production; in addition to pests and typhoons.

Vietnam has ordered a stop to rice export after this coming delivery to the Philippines. Thailand and Cambodia have increased their prices to limit exports and stabilize their domestic supply.

The reason Farmers are asking for subsidies is that they are forced to sell to the NFA who buys at a low price, to reduce costs to us urban dwellers. They also want money to buy inputs for higher yield, to increase their incomes. In part, the crisis is overstated because traders and middlemen hoard the rice to create a crisis that will raise their selling price, then make a killing.

Introduction of high yielding varieties was done in the 70's under the Green Revolution with disastrous results. The plants could not get zinc and iron from the soil because of some defect in the DNA produced. Also, these were heavily dependent on herbicides and pesticides that raised the costs of farmers.

The result was that farmers were in deep debt, no seeds to plant, lost their lands and were displaced. They had to move to upland farms and proceeded to do kaingin to survive. Also, the chemicals introduced to the soil ruined the quality of the land and damaged the bio-diversity of the farmlands. Kuhol, dalag, crabs, field frogs were decimated and exterminated, leaving farmers with nothing to augment their diets. It also destroyed the water systems that irrigated the farms, together with the aqua culture that was done in conjunction with the Green Revolution.

New varieties are being tested by IRRI for introduction to the ASEAN market, the Philippines principally. This is Transgenic rice or Golden Rice developed in laboratories in the US and Canada and brought here for field testing and cross breeding with our local varieties.

It's timely that I posted this transgenic rice tonight and then seeing your post. I was returning the favor of your visit earlier. The post will give you a clearer picture, I hope, of what the high yielding variety will do.:-)--Durano, done!

Francesca said...

i suppose, our country will progress if there are FOREIGN investors giving jobs to our people.

Like in Zimbabwe, beginning in 2000, Pres Mugabe began an effort to redistribute land from white holders (predominantly large farms) to black people (predominantly government miisters and cronies).

The blacks doesnt know how to manage the farm. Voila, no production.

Then Zimbabwe's economy went down by 100,580.2% in January 2008.
The Predident, started to print bank notes(zimbabwe dollars) thinking it would solve the problem, haha

hopefully, our govt would see the lesson from Zimbabwe govt.

JC said...

Hi Durano, There's been a crisis here because of our low production for a very long time now. A bigger crisis is yet to come but prices already went up when the activists and the opposition started barking like mad dogs.

As for the farmers being forced to sell to the NFA, the govt buys only 1% of their production. The farmers sell the rest to the unscrupulous traders who financed their fertilizers and seeds. Right now, they are demanding that the government buys 25% of the entire country's production at a much bigger price, continue to increase the buying price and for life. To me, that's a simple dole out.

Their leader, Ka Tonting also angrily asks for continued subsidy and claims that if the government does that, this country can become the food basket in the world. Stupid isnt it - the world's food supplier that is made possible by gigantic subsidies.

I agree with investments like irrigation, roads and post harvest facilities. I simply spit on lifetime and heavily subsidies on palay purchases, fertilizers, seedlings, etc..

As for the high breed rice, the one's being sold by the government now is not the IRRI variety. It's the one developed in Laguna by Henry Lim Bon Liong, a businessman who initially didn't anything about rice but took lately took special interest in it. He was taught by the rainmaker of China's rice industry how to crossbreed local varieties until he came out with the Gloria Miracle rice that yields record harvests per hectare in some areas.

jc said...

Hi Francesca, Thanks for the visit.Well,we continue to seek foreign investments but our tax laws, red tape and corruption is making the effort very difficult. As for leadership, our situation is not as bad as Zimbabwe. Though I agree that we have a lot of stupid people here.

Kazilar said...
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Placa de Vídeo said...
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Sidney said...

"Teach them how to increase their efficiency. Teach them the ways of high breed farming and other good farming practices."

That is the way to go... why does Vietnam, Taiwan and other countries have surplus of rice? They even manage to export rice!

A lot of farmers only do two harvests a year while it is perfectly possible to do three rice harvests a year...

jc smith said...

Hi Sidney!

Just recently, we were told that Filipino rice farms yield double compared to the amount per hectare produced by Vietnamese, Thai and other farms. The thing with this country is, our farm lands are decreasing and the population is increasing, hence the shortage. In addition, we have problems with unscrupulous rice traders, lazy farmers and people with nothing but an intention to overthrow the government, whoever the president may be.

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