The Philippines imports rice because it finds satisfaction in dividing large farmland up into unsustainable family farms that produce nothing for the greater Philippines. I feel for poor people, too. And for the laborers who stoop under the hot tropical sun jamming rice plantings into the mud like so many chickens pecking at bugs.
Hacienda Aquino (I have decided to rename it, much as the South China Sea has been retagged the West Philippine Sea to signify certain involvements of certain interested parties) will be divided up among worker's families. Well, once the years of appeals are done, if ever.
|American Agribusiness 1925 (JoeAm's Heritage)|
4,500 hectares. 6,300 families. Less than a hectare each. Plus dividing up some 1.3 billion pesos, or around 200,000 pesos per family, if those 6,300 families get the money. I'm not too clear on that.
But I know enough to ask, "How will the enriched farmers till the soil? In the modern way, with equipment and the best seedlings in healthy soil, protected by the best pesticides?"
In the Philippine way. The way that will assure poverty from here to eternity, for the road to prosperity is blocked by inefficient farming and the cost of buying rice abroad. Sustenance farming. Not first-class export farming. Farms that bleed the government coffers dry.
And until the Philippines is engaged in productive thinking and practices, labor wins out over equipment and efficiency and quality of method and product. And the waste is amplified by the tax money spent to purchase rice from Viet Nam. Or wherever they are getting it these days. Good money. Tax money. Spent in Viet Nam because Philippine farms can't satisfy Philippine needs.
But everyone sure feels good, now that workers are getting some land.
|The Competition Gets It|
My own tears are for the nonsense to be found in this economic model. It is not agribusiness, for sure. It is pathos-business. Which is more art than science, the art of conjuring up emotions for people who will be trapped forever in poverty because people feel sorry for them, short term.
I feel sorry for them long term. Until someone summons up the courage to break the woebegotten labor model in order to piece together large, efficient farms, the Philippines is consigned to poverty, bound to need, and unable to feed its own population.
Summon up the perspective and courage to ride through a rough patch, the transition from labor to mechanical, and most people come out the other side wealthier, healthier and wiser. They won't stoop to plant rice. They'll work in transportation, packing houses, marketing, accounting, bio-labs.
There will be a lot of words written during the coming weeks and months about Hacienda Aquino and the poor farmers. And it is ALL off the mark, irrelevant, a discussion that does nothing to make the Philippines wealthier. It is just the stuff of drama, of accusations and counter-accusations, of a President judged guilty by association. It is a glorious side-show with absolutely no relevance to important matters.
I'm sick of it already, whether the argument is for or against the Aquino interest, for I find in the debate the pro-forma reason why the Philippines is so backward and poor. It's called missing the mark. Getting it wrong. Whacking trees and bludgeoning the forest. Arriving at the train station a couple of centuries after the last train has left. It is almost 2012, and the nation is still debating feudal vs family-farm models, both guaranteed to support no one but poor peasants.
Not family farms like it was the 9th century. Not large landholdings worked by indentured workers like it was the 12th century.
Agribusiness, like of the 21st century.