The land that feeds
It is a no-brainer that agriculture is one of the most important sectors in a country. It provides livelihood and feeds an entire nation.
Yesterday, as I was listening to a privilege speech at the Philippine House of Representatives, a congressman narrated a story…
He went to a trip to Sweden once and he saw that there were numerous, huge and extravagant summer houses. He assumed that these were owned by politicians, or businessmen, as it is in the Philippines. So he asked the tour guide, “Whose houses are those?” And the guide replied, “Those are owned by farmers. They raise cattle and sheep and make cheese.” Needless to say, the congressman was surprised. In our country, one of the poorest sectors are the farmers. They lease land from lot owners and loan money to buy seedlings for a cropping season; praying to the heavens that no typhoons nor drought shall hit their crops. Unfortunately, this is most unlikely to happen. In the end, most farmers amass even more debt than they could handle.
We are an agricultural country. We could produce some of the best rice varieties and crops. We export agricultural products and by-products. But we are also a vulnerable nation. Typhoons and drought, poor infrastructure and the loss of interest of the younger generations on agriculture are some of our vulnerabilities.
Land use planning is a diverse study which involves social, environmental and economic considerations before zoning different parcels of land into which use they are most compatible with. The Philippines has viable lands, some are converted into industrial or residential use and some are just kept hanging. This is where land use planning kicks in. Considering the demographics of a province or barangay, its needs and capacities, we could put idle lands to good use without sacrificing environmental quality and integrity and improving the citizenry’s living standards.
At Dream Agritech, we have an initiative called Idle to Ideal which aims to convert idle lands into something more. We considered the social aspect by assuring that the out-of-school youth and women in the area will be the primary beneficiaries thru providing free agriculture trainings on organic farming, crop identification, planting, harvesting, storage and mainstreaming climate resiliency and making our future farmers more robust than before. Subjects like reading, writing and math will also be handled by the enthusiastic team of Dream. Economically, the produce and profit shall be shared by the land owner and its farmers.
We are hoping that this will be a new beginning, one of brighter future both for land use and agriculture.
Louise Alcalde is a graduate of University of the Philippines at Los Banos. She is currently working at the House of Representatives. She is a registered and certified Environmental Planner.
Featured photo grabbed from: https://www.hoppler.com.ph/blog/featured-articles/can-foreigners-own-property-in-the-philippines