Monday, June 1, 2009

Ag is the Foundation

Monday, June 1, 2009 MANILA, PHILIPPINES
Instrospective By Calixto V. Chikiamco
Why agriculture?

About 15 years ago, I wrote a column entitled "Why Agriculture?" arguing that agriculture should be the foundation of the country’s development strategy. Not surprisingly, our authorities ignored that advice, pursuing instead a strategy of exporting human labor complemented by a strategy of nurturing import-dependent, export-oriented industries such as electronics in industrial enclaves.

We now know the results of that strategy: terrible social and economic costs in exporting our talented workers and professionals, continuing widespread hunger and poverty, growing gap between the rich and the poor and the urban and rural sectors. It’s the reason why the neglected countryside remains fertile ground for insurgency and terrorism.

I can’t enumerate nearly enough all the benefits of making agriculture the foundation of our development strategy. The truth is that the US economy is powered by a highly productive agricultural sector (2-3% of the population feeds the entire country). Manufacturing and services can only prosper on the back of an agricultural sector that’s lively, productive, and innovative.

Half of the average Filipino family’s income goes to food expenditures. Reducing food prices through increased agricultural productivity and minimizing costs (through better infrastructure, lower fertilizer prices, etc.) will increase the average Filipino family’s disposable income that can be spent elsewhere. Read More

Many times when I have commented about people who are complaining about American agriculture, I often pose the question of “What country would you like to trade ag sectors with?” It’s easy for our own citizens to complain because their full stomachs allow them to. The author of this article realizes the important role agriculture plays in maintaining a stable society. Obviously our system isn’t perfect, no system is, but it’s the most successful one in the world. It makes us the envy of the world.

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