If I were King of the Philippines, I would stop using agriculture as a way to help poor people directly by giving them land, which they can't turn to profits and cash, or jobs, which have no upside but a lifetime of back-breaking work. It is a dead socialistic experiment. It has failed. Dead. Dead. Dead.
First of all, understand that Philippine growing conditions are the best on the planet. The soil and rain and sunshine are superior to anywhere in the U.S. or most other countries outside the equatorial greenhouse sun belt. The only thing missing is the determination to convert farming to agribusiness in order to generate great wealth. Wealth that would take laborers out of the mud and end this horrendously self-punitive social model that should have been abandoned when Russia collapsed.
Russia is going capitalistic. China is going capitalistic.
The Philippines hangs onto its socialistic, labor-bound version of agribusiness like Fidel Castro hangs on to his beard. And Cuba, communism. There is not a computer on any farm in the Philippines. There are damn few tractors.
Let me tell you point blank the adjectives that describe the Philippine agricultural model: stupid and bankrupt and backward.
If I were King, I would do three things:
- First I would mandate the formation of three private domestic farming corporations in each major agricultural arena: rice, coconuts, fruits, sugar cane, corn, vegetables, and exotics (coffee, cacao, kelp). Seven business lines and 21 corporations. I would fund the start-ups with government money that would assure private investors of the backing to leverage up their own investments and get really, really rich. They'd be big enough to provide the most modern equipment, milling and packing plants.
- Second, I would trash CARP and all the out-dated chain laws (chains because they bind the Philippines to backward ways to farm) that constrain wealth. I'd give the private agribusiness firms the right to acquire land anywhere, anytime, at any price. I'd wipe out the ridiculous local land title laws that are nothing more than engines of corruption for the connected and speed transfer of title. Any small-time farmer or laborer who cried and complained about unfair treatment would be shipped to Sulu to reflect on his transgressions.
- Third, I would establish a modern export infrastructure, private but with government investment, that would automate transportation, record-keeping and customs processes. The goal, get goods to market fast and inexpensively, with little waste and red tape, and knock the socks off of competitor nations like Viet Nam and Indonesia.
When people knew a product was grown in the Philippines, they would associate it with the highest quality of agricultural product available in the world. The entire Asian region would turn to the Philippines for quality foods. Like Japan went from selling junk products to quality products in a decade, the Philippines would go from junk farming to solid gold agribusiness in 10 years.
If I were King, this place would for sure be damn different than it is now.