Thursday, August 27, 2015

Entrepreneurial Farmer by Ambrosio R. Villorente

Organic Farming Exhibits

Advocates, supporters, and implementers of organic farming gathered on Sunday, August 23, 2015 at the Urban Agriculture Eastwood City Central Plaza. The organic Farming Trade Fair showcases the benefits of consuming organic products, urban farming method and the importance of supports for the Filipino farmers.

Several booths are set up for organic farm owners and food products who are introducing their goods. They explain the benefits of eating organic products.

Some views of those who attended the organic Trade Fair. Agriculture Magazine editor-in-chief Sac Sarian said, “organically grown food products do not only make a person healthier, it also helps the local farmers”,

“In my view, the only way to protect the future generation is by providing healthy and safe food, and protecting the environment”, said Limpin.

Sarian pushes for a massive organic farming information drive among farmers many of who does not even have a slight grasp of the concept. He is featuring farming innovations and developments in Agriculture Magazine to increase the knowledge of the farmers and the future farmers.

Several organically produced plants such as vegetables, fruits, ornamental plants, and seedlings among others are being exhibited. The exhibits and sales will be opened again on August 23, and 30.
Agriworkers Slam Kiko On
“Oil Palm Project Proposal”

Presidential Adviser for Food Security Francisco "Kiko" Pangilinan drew criticism from agricultural workers under the national federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), for zealously promoting the government’s disastrous plan to allocate one million hectares for oil palm plantations in the Philippines within the next ten years.
UMA Deputy Secretary General Ranmil Echanis slammed Pangilinan’s speech during the 9th National Oil Palm Congress in General Santos City last week, where Pangilinan said that “Palm oil production is key to poverty alleviation.”
“As a government official ensuring food security, Pangilinan must know that oil palm plantations have brought only hunger and extreme poverty in pea-sant areas, especially in Mindanao,” said Echanis.

“Agricultural workers employed in the country’s oldest palm oil plantations in the Caraga region suffer hazardous working conditions and very low wages. Even after 30 years of hard toil, many remains as casual workers,” said Echanis, referring to reports from UMA’s local affiliate in Agusan del Sur, the Pinagbuklod na Lakas ng Manggagawa sa Plantasyon ng Agusan Plantations, Inc. or PIGLAS-MAPAPI. 

According to a 2012 study by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), poverty, poor working conditions and the high level of unemployment particularly among women have pushed children to work in various capacities as plantation workers. About 24 percent of plantation workers in Agusan del Sur are children between 5 to 17 years old.

UMA strongly disapproves Pangilinan’s proposal for the “massive conversion” of so-called “idle lands” for oil palm, and pointed out that the history and the aggressive expansion of these plantations especially during the past few years led instead to massive landgrabbing and dislocation of peasant and indigenous peoples’ communities.
Extrajudicial killings and other rights violations were reported by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in areas such as Opol, Misamis Oriental where lumads believe that the palm oil firm A. Brown is behind the killing of the local leader of the Higaonon tribe, Gilbert Paborada, in 2012. 

 UMA also claimed that crop conversion and the use of toxic chemicals in oil palm plantations resulted not only in the destruction of traditional food sources in communities, but in the massive loss of agricultural areas devoted to food production.
“The Php 50 million government budget for oil palm expansion will benefit only foreign companies, investors, corrupt landlords and bureaucrats, and will push peasants deeper into poverty,” Echanis concluded.

 UMA, KMP and CTUHR are parts of a task force for the formation of a broad network opposing the aggressive expansion of oil palm plantations (NO PALM) in the country.

Malaysia has converted millions of hectares of riceland to both oil and rubber trees. Malaysia now produces more rubber and palm oil. She sells her oil and rubber at higher prices and buy her food needs like rice from Vietnam and Thailand at low price. Malaysia is economically well off now than the Philippines. Malaysia likewise does not suffer too much from climate change.

Among the most depressed sector in the Philippine society is rice farmers. There is really need to look for more productive crops to improve the economic level of farmers. /MP  

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