I caught an article that disturbed me the other day during my morning speed-read news briefing.
The gist of the article was that Philippine coconut farms are aging. Many trees are 50 years old so the trees are heading into decline. Little replanting has taken place. When the trees get old they produce as few as 10 coconuts a year, versus the more robust normal production of 50 to 75 coconuts per year.
The link to the article is HERE.
This is a matter of great concern because global demand for coconut products is expected to continue to build, and it is the nation's number one agricultural export. It provides a lot of jobs. The whole crop is vulnerable to aging. The industry is vulnerable to loss of jobs.
Government officials are perplexed that private farmers are not replanting. They aren't sure of the reason. The article points out that farmers have received government subsidies in the past, and you can draw your own conclusions from that.
I don't know what to make of it. It seems to me there are three possible circumstances in play here:
- Coconut farmers are not making any money and are simply milking their product for all they can get. They accept that their farms won't produce much income, so they don't care about production any more.
- The farmers are waiting for government money, refusing to plant anew until they get funding for it.
- The farmers are stupid.
Well, to me, if they engaged in (2), they are also stupid, for they are not taking care of their own livelihood. So the only non-stupid reason would seem to be they expect to fail anyhow, and are just living with the current plantings.
But even that makes no sense. The effort to replant is so small. All you do is take one coconut every 20 years and cram it in the ground to root and grow as a replacement tree. That is one coconut out of 1,000-to-1,500 dedicated to keeping the farm fresh.
But PHILIPPINE COCONUT FARMERS CANNOT MAKE THIS INVESTMENT?
They can cover the cost of the replanting by selling the old tree for wood.
"Holy crocodiledung, Batman."
I have argued in other blogs that the Philippines does not actually engage in agribusiness, but, as with transportation, promotes the farming industry as employment for the indigent. Free land given to non--expert farmers. No equipment. Small farms, none of which is large enough to gain efficiency from large-scale planting and harvesting.
The case of the aging coconut trees rather proves the point, eh?
Like buildings that are built with no maintenance budget, or like trucks purchased for a business with no regard for maintenance cost, coconut farms with no re-growth plan are setting themselves for a direct line to dilapidation. Like so much in the Philippines now. Second rate instead of world class. Worn out instead of fresh. Tired instead of modern.
And I have an opinion about that.
Man, let these farmers fail.
If they can't understand the concept of fresh, strong trees, or can't accept responsibility for re-planting without government handouts, just let them frickin' fail. Let them go broke. Let them starve, I don't care. Then people with brains can buy the farms for a song and run them for profit.
I'm glad I have reformed and am no longer as outspoken as I used to be. Otherwise I would call them beggar farmers. Whining, excuse-ridden beggar farmers.
But I won't.
I will only say this makes no sense at all to the western mind. Why would you intentionally proceed down a sure path to failure? Why would you not be forever focused on how to maximize yields over the long term.