Slowly Goes the Philippines!

Is “Productivity” a Filipino Oxymoron?

I don’t usually get into the “Editorial” writing mode, mainly because it could potentially be considered offensive to somebody…anybody. My intent is not to point fingers or call anybody out, and it is definitely not an attempt to change the culture or effect societal norms (this blog would never be seen by the right people anyway). But in the rare case, when a certain governing policy negatively affects the move towards productivity, and does the opposite of uplifting the local population (my family included), I feel another viewpoint should be provided, regardless of who might notice it. Nobody I know of that lives here will, so…here goes.

By All Means, Protect the Carabao!

Mechanized  Butuan Farming
Mechanized Butuan Farming

Recently, I happened across an article published by a local online reporting group. The article was all about how a local mayor was involved in helping to prevent a decline in the local carabao population. Normally one would think this would be something that the Dept. of Agriculture, or the Bureau of Animal Industry, would be focused on, leaving the mayor to the more important of task of growing the local economy and the business of running the city.

The article basically discussed how the local City Veterinary Office gathered 41 farmer-recipients at a local resort for a day-long seminar on carabao breeding, feeding, nutrition, pasture management, and artificial insemination. Also in that same meeting, the mayor revealed that 116 female carabaos will be dispersed instead of Tractors as the former have a longer life span than the latter. The mayor went on to explain that carabaos usually live up to 15 years while tractors deteriorate fast especially, if ill-maintained. Moreover, carabaos do not require maintenance, don’t produce pollution, and their manure can be used as fertilizer, he said. He went on to say that the local carabao population is disappearing from fields and farmlands because of people’s heavy consumption of carabeef. (Maybe it is because of a dire need for income to sustain the family that gives the farmer reason to sell his livestock? Not sure.)

How about increase cattle production?
How about increasing cattle production?

Now, while I commend the idea of protecting an animal population, I am also all-in for protecting the environment. I support animal welfare and detest animal abuse. I am also an advocate of taking proactive steps in support of progress of increased agricultural productivity and in improving the living standards of local hard-working people. In my opinion, all cultural related activities aside, this policy of keeping the status quo is like trying to run on ice. The harder you try, the less forward progress you make, and may not be in the best interest of the peoples. And when authority chooses to blame pollution for the decision not to use tractors, one only has to point to the implementation, or lack thereof, of the emission control laws of the LTO, not to mention the massive daily burning of toxic pollutants…everywhere!  It’s all well documented a nothing-new issue. Of course not just everyone would be able to use mechanized equipment such as tractors for farm production, especially the small-scale farmer, but to suggest that the carabao should be the main farm implement, well…is not progressive in my view. Instead of derailing agricultural production and progress in the name of protecting the carabao, why not encourage local ranchers to raise cattle for beef? Tractor sales means jobs. Tractor maintenance means jobs. Parts and fuel means jobs. A cattle industry would mean jobs and an increased food supply and would serve to further protect the carabao.

A recent article published by the online publication The Stagnant Filipino titled “Philippines to Remain Among Poorest Countries in SE Asia” summarizes the inequality among the people in the Philippines and holds that there will not much change in the next 3 years going forward. The article also stated “…that rural poor would benefit only to the extend that the government directs spending towards improving the quality of essential services – including education, healthcare and transportation…” (and I’ll toss in farm mechanization and productivity improvements for good measure) which is the point I’m trying to make here – the people can only progress as fast as the government will allow.

Overall, mechanization means increased agricultural productivity which means jobs and equates to more disposable income to many people…all to be spent in the city which bolsters the tax base. I’m not sure what is not to understand here, except that more things tend to stand in the way of progress here instead of simply getting out-of-the-way!

Your thoughts?

2 thoughts on “Slowly Goes the Philippines!

  1. I think the problem here is the money! There is no money at the farming level, and most service type of work. So there is no incentive to mechanize and gets things to work faster, when all you can afford is to pay workers 200 php a day to get the job done, even if it takes more time.
    The country needs help from other countries to move into the 21st century, but often leader here are too proud to accept the help. here is one positive story I have witnessed. A small VCO (virgin coconut oil) processing plant, growing from 7 employees to over 100 in a few months, because they accepted financial help from an Indian entrepreneur that imported modern machinery from India, and got the small pinoy plant to produce enough to export to the USA and other countries, while giving work to an entire community! So its possible to get things done here, but the poor, uneducated people cannot achieve this on there own
    Change will come from abroad, not from within….

  2. Thanks for you comment Marc. From what I have read, there are farming subsidies available and the LGU’s have from time to time delivered farm equipment to the barangay farmer. The problem here seems to be that no effort is being made to further identify those activities that require tractor/carabao use and effectively measure their relative performances. There have been major studies done (as early as 1980) that support higher productivity through mechanization, but for whatever reason, progress in agriculture is stymied.

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