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It is idiotic to blame low crop production on the weather. Unless a natural disaster wipes out your crop, it doesn’t make sense to blame a prolonged dry or wet spell, common almost every year in tropical countries, for agricultural losses.

It is sad how many Philippine farmers shake their heads in resignation at the sight of cracked, barren farmland when farmers in countries like China and Korea defy snow to harvest rice and corn crops, and even exotic produce that naturally grow only in tropical climes.

It is inexcusable for a country whose national budget has long ago topped the one-trillion-peso mark to squander money on ‘official’ junkets. While officials stay at posh hotels and dine like they are heads of Arab kingdoms, hectares of farmland throughout the archipelago remain without a basic irrigation system.

I was recently surprised to find the absence of any sort of irrigation system in farmland just a couple of hours away from Metro Manila. The area was quite highly developed too, with upscale, themed, villages that went on for miles.

The answer of the government to the current El Niño phenomenon plaguing the country is typical of the Filipino penchant for stop-gap solutions; cloud-seeding.

It saddens and worries me that the Philippines is devolving into an out-of-control consumer economy when the wave of the future is food production. A recent survey by VISA shows that upper class Filipinos topped the list of the world’s biggest spenders, edging out even the Japanese!

As expected, the knee-jerk reaction is to build more shopping malls on arable land, even those fertile enough to produce enough food to feed the entire continent.

Maybe that’s why Filipinos have never tried too hard to subdue nature. We’ve been spoiled for far too long. We have everything in abundance; sunshine, water, fertile land. Take away one of those and we scratch our heads and blame everything else but our lack of foresight.

We should no longer have problems that have to do with weather conditions that occur year after year. We no longer live in the 1900s. But despite the modern infrastructure and high-tech connectivity we enjoy, looking at barren farmland just a few miles away from the capital makes me feel that we do.


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