By Christele J. Amoyan and Joy Dianne J. Gumatay
The National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) President and a former chancellor of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Dr. Emil Q. Javier talked on Agriculture and Development Seminar Series (ADSS) Tuesday, August 27, 2012, at Drilon Hall, SEARCA UPLB.
According to Dr. Javier in his lecture titled “Philippine Agriculture (PA) 2020: A Strategic Plan for Poverty Reduction, Food Security, Competitiveness, Sustainability and Justice and Peace,” the study is basically adapted by the NAST from the United Nations Millennium Ecosystems Assessment (MEA) of 2005. It correlates the contribution of the ecosystem to human well-being. This strategic approach recognizes three overlapping systems implied in agriculture: agricultural system, natural resources system, and social system.
“As a social philosophy, we fully recognized that agriculture has functions in material and economic distribution. That is, agriculture has to do with the even power to Filipinos socially and politically, especially to the countryside folks,” Dr. Javier explained.
He outlined three main pillars of the modernization of agriculture in Philippine context, namely:
- the organization of agriculture as business;
- the asset reform for low-earning farmers, and
- the nurturing of community values.
From these given pillars, Dr. Javier drew his observations saying that the current scenario of the Philippines today is “anemic” except for the fisheries. Additionally, rural poverty is elevating rapidly, agricultural deficit is widening (from 16% in 2005 to an exponential hike to 50% in 2009) and the hasty degradation of the environment is quite tormenting.
These components, Dr. Javier proposed, can be addressed by providing seminars and skills training for the farmers. Farmers then, specifically low-income farmers, can become business entrepreneurs. Dr. Javier identified people empowerment as one of the many feasible solutions faced by poverty-stricken farmers in the countryside.
Being a farmer himself, Dr. Javier pledged to his colleague in attendance, Dr. Leonardo Gonzales that he would increase his cropping intensity up to 3.5 from the average 1.56 cropping intensity potential achieved.
Citing Fr. Francis Lucas of the Asian Non-Government Organization Coalition (ANGOC), Dr. Javier aims “to bring soul to agriculture” by emphasizing the importance on sustainability and the promotion for the love of nature.
He announced that the Ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allocated P54 billion for the Department of Agriculture during her term. Now, the incumbent admistration of P-Noy hiked this budget to P60 billion. “So money is not a problem anymore. The only problem in mind is how to spent the money properly,” he said.
Present in the said seminar were the Former Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Dr. William G. Padolina, also former-UPLB Chancellor Dr. Ruben L. Villareal, and Filipino Scientist Dr. Ramon C. Barba.