(Yesterday was Labor Day for the Filipino people. It falls on May 1 of every year. In line with this, I would like to pay tribute to the real heroes of the agricultural sector. Here is a repost of my note on facebook, written on June 24, 2010.)
How are our Filipino farmers doing? Farming is more than a difficult job--it usually degrades human dignity. Noble intentions of our great farmers are eroded by the greed of loan sharks and middle men. It is a struggle of the fittest in the agricultural sector.
The lack of post-harvest facilities add more to their woes. For me, farmers are the unsung heroes of the past and present times. They till the land to grow rice, a main staple here in the Philippines.
They brave the heat of the sun and the wrath of the storm. Bad or good weather, they protect their farm through physical exhaustion to save their families from hunger. But the loan shark eats the very last centavo that they produce.
Cooperatives of farmers sprouted here in the Philippines to develop a "shared responsibility" among them to survive the odds facing their sector because agricultural empowerment is yet to be fully materialized.
I'm not adding insult to their injury but the "Bolante case" is one example that the government failed to address the true problem of the agricultural sector. The worst truth is, it was even used as an alibi for graft and corruption.
Our Filipino farmers have to battle landlessness, deficit control over natural and fiscal wealth, and the servility of our economy to the world capitalist order.
Despite of the rising inflation, farmers are still compelled to give up a large quota of their earnings for land rent.
Middle men usually buy their produce at the lower price of its market value. Having no choice, owing to lack of post-farming facilities to ensure that their harvest stays fresh, they are forced to accept the minimal amount.
Our agricultural economy remains dependent on trading abroad raw materials and agricultural products and on buying from abroad technology and machinery.
These and other ugly facts encompassed the Filipino farmers but having no alternative, they face this painful truth to raise their families through this noble but usually exploitative economic condition.
The need for agricultural empowerment is URGENT.
Agricultural empowerment is allowing the farmers to partake through democratic institutions by being able to be cognizant of the alterations that have to be executed in the agricultural sector.
They must take part in attaining social transformation in this sector by allowing them to participate in the planning scheme to be formulated by the government for the agricultural industry in bringing forth a just and effective effects in nationwide farming.
Farmers must be made mindful of their role through earnestly dedicated social expansive actions and they must take an energetic part in planning and bringing about a just and effective social metamorphosis.