Monday, May 30, 2011

Create inter-agency task force to address smuggling

We are calling on the Department of Finance to create an inter-agency task force to address smuggling and help increase the incomes of local farmers while assuring food security.

Smuggling is one of the top concerns of both farmers and agri-businessmen around the country. Reports show that at least P100 billion of potential government revenues are lost with the continuous entry of smuggled goods and agricultural products, such as onions, rice, garlic, carrots, poultry, pork, and sugar.

According to field data, a conservative average of ten 14-footer container vans, with around 350,000 kilos of smuggled onions, enter the Cagayan de Oro and Davao ports per week.

The task force should be the vehicle that will mobilize the stakeholders and government in sharing information on smuggling activities and alerting the Bureau of Customs. It will also look into marshalling legal support for case buildup, evidence gathering, and the filing of cases against erring customs officials.

Kapag hindi natin nasolusyonan ang iligal na pag-aangkat ng mga produktong agrikultural sa bansa, hindi lang ang gobyerno ang tatamaan. Mas tatamaan ang magsasakang nagbabanat ng buto para pakainin ang sambayanan. Nawawalan sila ng kita at lumiliit ang kakayahan nilang makapagbigay ng sapat na pagkain para sa taumbayan.

Kung walang iligal na pag-aangkat, magsasaka’y aangat at lahat kakain nang sapat.

Smuggling is an urgent problem that the Bureau of Customs cannot solve on its own. We need the support of other government agencies and especially the private sector to ensure that our local producers are protected against the illegal entry of foreign commodities. We need to take care of our people, especially those who tirelessly work to put food on our tables.

Among others, we should build a united front against smuggling. Across sub-sectors—be it vegetables or meat, or rice, corn, or sugar. Smuggling hurts our farmers and the local industry. It must be met with forceful intervention. We should unleash People Power and defeat ‘smuggling power.’

We must send the signal to the smugglers that we will not simply watch and stand idly by as they wreak havoc on an industry we consider vital for national progress.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My harvests for the day

In the empty lot in front of our home I also planted siling labuyo, sitaw, alugbate and talong. We have been harvesting these high value crops for over a month now.

I planted forty bushes of talong and also used vermicompost organic fertilizer. A month after planting we started harvesting and within two weeks each talong bush produced five to seven pieces of talong for a total of some two hundred pieces of talong daily. Today, a month and a half later we are still harvesting talong although in lesser quantities. Here are some of them picked this morning.

For sitaw, after forty five days from planting we began harvesting daily and have been doing so for nearly one month now. Here is the amount harvested this morning.

I also planted a number of siling labuyo bushes. Here is the harvest of siling labuyo also done this morning. All these seeds were purchased in packets from the local market. Each packet costs fifty pesos and has three hundred seeds.

Alugbate is good with monggo or pakbet. It is very rich in potassium. Here is this mornings harvest.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Our homegrown chili pepper

We planted forty bushes of green chili pepper (sili for sinigang) in the empty lot in front of our home and used vermicomposting. After three weeks we started harvesting two to five fully grown chili peppers per bush daily. Around one hundred pieces a day. We have been harvesting daily (!) for a month and a half now. Since we can't have sinigang everyday we have been giving away the chili peppers to friends and family. Chili peppers sell for more than eighty pesos a kilo.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

'Farmtreneurs' key to food security and jobs creation

We will work closely with the Department of Agriculture and Malacanang in providing opportunities for those without jobs and displaced OFWs by enjoining them to venture into farming.

There are a lot of opportunities in farming. What is needed is a synergy of the whole chain—from the producers to the traders.

Malacanang has fielded the idea of providing hectares of land for lease to informal settlers, and we feel that this plan should also include OFWs and the millions unemployed in the country. We need to propagate the idea of having ‘farmtreneurs’. This means shifting the paradigm away from the idea of leaving the country for greener pasteurs. The opportunities will be here and Filipinos won’t need to leave the comforts of their motherland.

‘Farmtreneurs’ will be different from how farmers are generally perceived. We will build their capacity to earn more by providing them the means to sell their products directly to market via our fellow AF2025 convenors. We also have in AF2025 the built-in network to ensure the sustainability of the project. Having farmtreneurs would also address the need for increased crop output.

The DA has reported an unprecedented increase in the harvest of palay this year. But fisheries and livestock continue to lag behind. Having ‘farmtreneurs’ will help the whole sector as farming becomes more profitable for them. Increased output is essentially what is needed for food self-sufficiency.

This is an out-of-the box way of approaching decades-old problem of unemployment, poverty, and food self-sufficiency. And this is exactly the proverbial shot in the arm needed to boost further what the DA under the Aquino administration has accomplished. It is about time our agriculture and fisheries sector get the recognition and status that they deserve.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Create a new generation of 'farmtreneurs'

The government’s plan to relocate some 500,000 informal settlers in the metro to agricultural lands should extend to those who are jobless and unemployed who are willing to work yet do not have the opportunities.

Nearly three million are jobless. Our farmers’ average age is 57. We need to encourage a new generation of Filipinos to go into farming and agribusiness.

We are working closely with the Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. Along with the private sector, we convened the Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 (AF2025). AF2025 ‘s goal is to craft a long-term program that would address issues hounding the country’s agricultural and fisheries sector.

We need to create a core of young people and turn them into ‘farmtreneurs’ willing to go into farming and agribusiness and boost rural development and create jobs in the agriculture and fisheries sector. Instead of leaving the country to be employed abroad, we should encourage the jobless and unemployed to leave the urban centers and go into farming in the rural areas.

Creating a new generation of ‘farmtreneurs’ is key to achieving food security. Without a new generation of young farmers, we undermine the nation’s goal of ensuring adequate food supply for our people.

At an average age of 57, our farmers are an endangered species needing immediate government intervention. When we lose our farmers to call centers or jobs overseas, we lose our capacity to secure our food requirements.

Monday, May 2, 2011

On Osama Bin Laden's death

While the death of Osama Bin Laden is a big blow to terrorism and extremism, we believe that unless the international community addresses extreme poverty and inequality, the intolerance and the injustice that breeds his brand of radicalism, other Bin Laden's will simply take his place and continue with the work he had begun. The defeat of international terrorism is hinged on humanity's collective ability to defeat widespread poverty, intolerance and injustice in the world.

How we wish that his death will end terrorism. It will not. It will take more than Bin Laden's death to end the senseless terrorist killings.