What now Philippine Agriculture: Food security or rice self sufficiency?

Analysis and Opinion

By Karl Garcia

The pandemic has caused food security issues the world over. But what is food security? This is access to available food.

Some say the neolibs will just dump their over-produced goods to vulnerable and weak nations. For me, it is the regulators who should check if there is over-importation, hoarding and smuggling.

Why are goods from Mindanao more expensive than imported goods? There are many reasons and they are too many to mention.

Climate change made worse by deforestation and conversion to other use like mixed use development and unfortunately even rice fields.

So do we really need 100 percent rice self sufficiency when we are already 88.93 percent sufficient in 2015, to be food secure?

In the table below, we will see that rice production is spread throughout the country. We are already the 8th producer in the world producing 15.7 metric tons in 2015. We could still do that with less land. We may be the largest importer, but regulation can do something about that. We may also have drying irrigation systems, but should we continue with this when we can expand on other produce like coconuts where we are on top of the world producing 19,500 tons in 2015?

For our carbs, we can get used to being corny by eating more corn. Corn production employs 600,000 farm households.

Sugar is promising because of our need to be health conscious. The food and beverage industries are shifting to sugar substitutes like stevia. We should watch this because sugarcane production is spread in 19 provinces in 11 regions. We dedicate up to 390,000 hectares mostly in Negros. I suggest we slowly shift to stevia planting.

The Philippines is the world’s third largest producer of pineapples, producing more than 2.4 million tons in 2015. The Philippines was among the top three banana producing countries in 2010. Mindanao is where most our fruit production is found.

A Table of some our crops, in tons:

Food vs fuel

Growing world energy demand and the consequences of fossil fuel use for climate change are forcing many countries such as the Philippines to increase the production and use of biofuels, which can be derived from food crops.



Before the Chinese agression, we could fish freely on the West Philippine Sea.

Our fishers contributed 2.2 million tons or 2 percent of the total world catch. In addition, they contributed value to the Philippines of P80.4 billion. The industry provided employment of one million people or 3 percent of the country’s labor force.

We are the fourth biggest producer of seaweed and ninth biggest producer of aquaculture products. Unfortunately, the ice-ice disease threatens our seaweed production, as does climate change.

Even before the Chinese aggressiveness, we were already overfishing, using illegal means like cyanide and dynamite. We destroyed many coral reefs. There is also the issue of Big Commercial fishers bullying small fishers out of their livelihood.

Meanwhile we have eyesores like the Fishpens in Laguna and Taal lakes. The volcano removed the fishpens in Taal. Do we need an act of nature to remove the fishpens in Laguna de bay?

Also important part of agriculture is the livestock industry and forestry. I won’t deal with that in this blog article.



  1. We have been pushing for 100 percent rice sufficiency when we have other products like coconut, corn, fruits, and aquaculture.
  2. Overimportation, smuggling, hoarding of rice.
  3. We have problems of land conversion because debt-saddled farmers would rather sell their land because they cannot buy fertilizer and other goods to make their lives easier. So they just sell their land. This, in my opinion, has made a mockery of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
  4. Lack of Knowledge and Financial Support of Farmers.
  5. Non implementation of AFMA in terms of financing.
  6. Aging Farmers.
  7. Food vs Forest, Food vs BioFuel issues.
  8. Overfishing with the use of illegal methods.
  9. WPS issues; China.
  10. Disease and  infestation on coconut and seaweed.



  1. The Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act or AFMA was conceptualized by the late Senator Edgardo Angara. He lamented on its implementation. Several other Agriculture Senate Committee chairs like Senators Loren Legarda and Cynthia Villar say the same and the latter even says that poor implementation of AFMA led to our current crisis.
  2. The Agriculture Training Insitute gives training to the farmers. One plus-factor is their seeking of the best practices abroad and that includes Israel.
  3. Agriculrural land as collateral may sound bad to the taste but this is a way to solve financing issues. What happens next is up to the farmers. Maybe they need finance lessons as well.
  4. The Rice Tarrification Law may have removed the NFA from the picture but the NFA was supposed to be a regulator, not an importer. Leave the importing to the private sector. Regulation must check for hoarding and dumping from overproduction of host countries.

Even with these solutions, we still have over-importation and hoarding of rice and conversion of prime agricultural lands to mixed use development properties. The food vs forest, food vs biofuels issues persists.



  1. With years of oversight hearings on Agriculture, congress must once and for all provide a Roadmap for All to follow and that includes the DBM.
  2. This will fill up the lack of knowledge and financial support for our farmers.
  3. Pass a National Land Use Act (NLUA). Many piecemeal bills putting a stop to land conversion have been filed, but the catch-all saviorland use law has been lobbied against by developers. Not all land needs to be protected, only prime agricultural land, which is the target of the developers. That makes NLUA a must. But how will that happen if the senate committee chair finds nothing wrong with land conversion and even says that no LGU will allow NLUA to pass? The president just gave up on the legislation and said to just introduce an Executive Order.
  4. Rice is very important, but land can be rededicated to coconut, fruits, corn, coffee and other nonfood items like abaca which can also be used as PPE.
  5. Farmers can contribute to reforestation efforts like in Leyte.
  6. Have a study of sugar substitutes like stevia planting for health concerns and food and beverage industry requirements.
  7. Don’t give up on seaweed farming; learn to deal with disease and climate change
  8. Make or show equitability in the Rice tarrification law.

* * * * *

Super thanks to the ever-patient Irineo who not only convinced me write more for The Society of Honor, he also suggested the topic and he made time for me in spite of his very busy schedule.

81 Responses to “What now Philippine Agriculture: Food security or rice self sufficiency?”
  1. Thanks for the overview of issues surrounding the rat’s nest called agriculture. I’m struck by two things.

    First, the table of products by region illustrates that there are clusters of huge production around the country. I’d guess that it is big companies that are behind the productivity in every area where there is a specialty product. That suggests there is an animal called ‘agribusiness’ in the Philippines, rather than farming that is cooperative based. The nation needs more of that, and these producers need to put their weight behind land use reform to offset real estate developer lobbying.

    Second, the Philippines does not seem to manage the future well. There is no concerted effort to protect seas or land. Or it is weak and mainly focused on tourism rather than managing food resources. The nation mainly reacts, a trait we see again and again. The nation needs to manage the future better to produce more and protect more.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Thanks Joe for opening the comment section, I hope we contributirs behave well enough so the discussions to continue.

      Good observations.
      There are agribiz going on and the cooperstives seem not catch a break.
      Cooperatives are the policy for social justice, but after social justice is achieved the next step should proceed and that is agri biz as you pointed out.

      Indonesia has only Bali as a famous tourist spot as far as beaches are concerned, Domestic and International tourism is nice but we should not put everything in that tourism basket.

      True we keep looking on the past, and instead of learning. from it, we resort to denial and revisionism.
      Plans we have aplenty, if we walk the talk we would move.
      We react by setting aside programs which barely started then promote a pet project or advocacy.

      But also I observe that aside from tourism, our development stages by passed agriculture and industrial development and went straight to the service sector.
      But that is a story for another day.

    • Dole and Del Monte come to mind for pineapples and Cavendish bananas on huge Mindanao plantations, while Negros of course is known for sugar plantations. The low wages and labor conditions of plantation workers are known, but then again having a small rice field is also pretty much subsistence level as well nowadays. In the times of Magsaysay with just 20 million Filipinos many still had a bit of rice land or maybe planted coconuts or corn. A few pigs and chickens on the side, and some fished the seas. Centuries-old lifestyle.

      Urbanization on one side and mining on the other have made it unfeasible nowadays. I suspect that mining has not only taken up valuable land space but also in some places ruined lands and fishing waters. Samar I read somewhere lost nearly all its virgin forests due to logging in the time of Marcos. UP Balara in the early 1970s had Visayan migrants still raising pigs and chickens even if there was no space there for rice fields anymore.

      A lot of things (even Metro Manila traffic until the 1980s or so) basically ran themselves with the typical Filipino knack for survival and improvisation until they got too big to just run by themselves. A government not really used to managing things proactively hasn’t caught up with it until now. Land Reform was about giving people the old way of life but as we see many just sold their fields to developers as planting rice wasn’t earning enough or they didn’t have the skills or capital for it, it seems. Except for Nueva Ecija the Central Plain north of Manila, classic rice country, is totally urbanized nowadays. There are no easy solutions.

  2. tinacuyugan says:

    Excellent article, Karl, with much food for thought re different agribusiness sectors. Agree with Joe that land use reform is key.

    Would just like to add that further DA/multi-agency support for seaweed farming–which takes place just offshore–could boost livelihood and improve the lives of many coastal dwellers with no access to land for cultivation. Also, inputs required for seaweed growing are often lower in cost than inputs for land cultivation. And seaweed isn’t just a sushi/ramen thing: different varieties have a range of commercial and industrial uses.

    Mindanao already has seaweed growers’ associations that could help in industry consolidation and seaweed disease mitigation. These associations just have to be strengthened through technical assistance. Also, the government has to get its act together–down to the municipal government level–on protecting these coastal resources–as AGRICULTURAL resources. For some time now the development focus has been on conservation (e.g. mangrove planting to stop erosion), which is great, but parallel to that we should shine a spotlight on agribusiness in coastal areas. Because if we don’t use it, we may lose it.

    You Know Who is watching from across the West Philippine Sea.

  3. NHerrera says:

    An important Philippine topic. Thanks for the statistics and analysis.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Thanks Tina and thanks for additional inputs on our seaweed production.
      Their latest problem is the so called ice-ice disease, but that can be resolved as you have indicated in your comment.

    • karlgarcia says:

      So sorry NH, my reply to Tina was placed under your comment.
      Thanks, I know you loved statistics.
      Irineo helped me a lor in this article and the next.

  4. Karl Garcia says:


    Sen Villar for very obvious reasons does not want NLUA to pass, which is unfortunate as head of the agriculre Committee she could only say that no LGU would want to be bypassed by allow NLUA to pass.
    She is invonsistent when it is her territory suddenly she is concerned for the environment by going against reclamation, but if it is about land conversion, she will say there is nothing wrong with it.

  5. karlgarcia says:

    Dropping a link on something I forgot to mention in my article. It is about the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.


    • Karl Garcia says:

      This is the subsidy program for rice.
      It is frustrating to have a program kasi di nagsisync sa annual budget.
      The AFP mod comes to mind, programed for 133 Billion but until the end if the fifteen year program spending has not reached 60 million for modernization.
      As mentioned in the article the AFMA, is well documented not to been financed according to plan.
      So what is the purpose of legislating programs with no budget.

  6. Karl, many thanks as well for the big picture. I shall add some history as I recall it:

    1. Tobacco monopoly from the late 1700s to somewhere in the 1800s. Very strong in the Ilocos. Philippine cigars had their own, unique rolling style different from Cuban ones. There are pictures of entire families including kids smoking from the 1800s. In Albay there were “illegal” (meaning non-monopoly, private) tobacco plantations in our hill areas, I read somewhere, occassionally Spanish soldiers and their Filipino helpers went up the hills to set fire to them.

    2. Sugar also started in the late 1700s, exporting to USA from 1798, see “The Philippines From the Edge to the Middle of Things”. The first (Spanish) Roxas came to the Philippines around that time. Sugar in Negros and Pampanga, though Hacienda Luisita was to become Cojuangco property only much later. I have read about the Homesteading Program for Negros to give peasants opportunities but that it often led to landgrabbing by bigger fishes around the 1920s. Shows that even the mighty USA was not as much in control as it could have been. Impunity is an old Filipino tradition.

    3. Abaca was a Philippine monopoly in the 19th century. Shipping rope was built nearly exclusively with abaca until DuPont (I think) created synthetic alternative around 1920s/1930s. Abaca was used for clothes by native Filipinos for a long time. The abaca boom was jumpstarted by demand from Salem, Massachussets in the 19th century. I yet have to read “The History of Abaca” completely and I have read only snatches of “Prosperity without Progress” (re the Bicol abaca boom and bust). What I have indications of is that non-Bikolanos came into Bikol. Mayor Higino Templado of Tiwi, Albay (my father’s hometown) was Pampangan and created a new part of town called Cararayan (“nice place” in Bikol language) where the abaca plantations were. My great-great-grandfather, an abaca planter, had a lot of his land papers notarized by him. His name Marcelino Saenz, indicated he wasn’t from the town, as the friars had named “natives” with surnames starting with B and C (Google Claveria list, especially in Albay) in that town in 1849- but I don’t know where he came from. His future son-in-law Hilario Salazar was from Batangas. So a pattern similar to what happened in Mindanao with Christian settlers later on happened in 1870s in Albay – newcomers with more means displacing natives, often marrying the richer ones. Prosperity without Progress I recall mentions banditry by displaced former farmers. Goons must have been in the mix as well.

    4. Plantations in Mindanao from the 1920s onwards – pineapple and bananas, rubber much later. Abaca also was transplanted to Davao and heavily industrialized but that was short-lived as the market suddenly fizzled. Someone also took abaca seedlings to Latin America. Now it also grows in Costa Rica and Ecuador – the main competitor of the Philippines for the modern market. Abaca has a bit of a revival as the automotive industry uses it for composites because of its tensile strength.

    5. The first Spanish landlords were encomienderos from the 1600s onwards, though they were so oppressive that even the Spanish Church went against them. Seems it was a horrible period of famine for those under that regime. The Spanish Church later basically took over a lot of former encomiendero lands. Many rich or wealthy Filipinos – including the Rizals – just LEASED lands from the friar orders. Their issue with the Dominicans who kept raising the lease is part of the Fili novel. Americans confiscated and sold a lot of friar lands, and rich Filipinos were the first takers of course. What I recall is hearing about sharecropping by Filipino landlords, with tenants having to give 80% of their crop to them, later it was reduced to 60% but this has to be confirmed. Discontent by tenants and landless peasants helped recruitment to Sakdalistas, Hukbalahap and later NPA. Marcosian land reform was about dividing bigger estates, though it was just as weird and half-hearted as CARP after Marcos. I heard that the sale of agri land to developers started with the Marcos land reform as an attempt at evasion by landlords – the sale of distributed land to developers later. Of course former tenants probably didn’t have the savvy in buying seeds and selling their produce, with middlemen winning is what I have heard. So here we are today.

    • Some history from Prof. Chua:


      “During most of the 333 years of Spanish colonization, the lowland indios who were colonized under the reduccion were subjected to some economic policies that made life harder for them. The “tributo” was a tax in cash or in kind demanded from people whose land just happened to be in a pueblo or one Spaniard’s “encomienda,” which was a land grab. “Polos y servicios” was mandatory labor on government projects or in the building of the galleon ships for 40 days in a year; it was said that although one was fed, he rarely got paid despite having a budget for it. “Bandala” was a quota of a certain produce imposed on a province that the farmers could only sell to the government, yet he did not get the payment in full, while other needs like food had to be bought from the government for a higher price. One example of such an arrangement was the tobacco monopoly in the northern Philippines. It became lucrative to the regime, but it brought down the livelihood of Ilocanos. Such hardships made them thrifty and created industries that were keen on preserving things, especially food.”

    • Karl Garcia says:


      • Seems the Banaue rice terraces are not as old as originally presumed – more likely they were a result of people fleeing upland from the Spaniards.


        In their study, Acabado said that the dating of the Ifugao agricultural terraces provides several contributions to the Philippine and Southeast Asian. First, he argued, the Bayesian model offers an approach to date other agricultural terrace system in the Cordillera and the rest of Southeast Asia. Second, the radiocarbon determinations and subsequent calibrations from the Bocos agricultural terraces suggests that the suite of agricultural strategies of ancient Filipinos include terracing.

        “ Indeed, terraces can be seen across the Philippine archipelago – not as magnificent as what we see in the Cordilleras, but illustrates similar technology,” he added.

        He said that based on their findings, the extent of the rice terraces that we see today could be a product of historical population movements in between 1500-1600 AD.

        • Karl Garcia says:


        • sonny says:

          Irineo, I would look at the history of other rice terraces. Off-hand, rice terraces seem to be ubiquitous. I seem to recall the cultivation of rice by ‘terracing’ can be seen from Chinese locales, viz the Yunnan plateau. My conjecture the Chinese discovered how far a latitude can grow rice given the water requirements, mountain terrain and weather. Hence the Yunnan province. The Mekong River is to the west of the plateau flowing southward,passing Indo-China and emptying into the SCSea. Hence the rice histories of SEA. Land-to-sea migration can be imagined to western coast of Luzon by highland rice-savvy peoples that end up in the Cordilleras. Note the different physiognomies of our Cordillera Filipinos.

          • The theory of the Nusantao (Southeast Asian peoples) says that the ancestors of Vietnamese,Thais, Malays etc. all came from Southern China. The linguistics, customs and languages of the hill tribes of Southern China are all indicators.

            There are the Tai-Kadai who speak something related to Thai, there are hill tribes in Southern China who dance something similar to Tinkling etc. – and the somewhat darker teint of many Southern Chinese is postulated as being due to mixture of Han Chinese with original groups. There is of course the hypothesis of Austronesian expansion via the Malay Peninsula, another is the Out-of-Taiwan hypothesis. I think modern genetic analysis will be able to clarify better what might have happened – just like it did for the Slavic origin of most Germans East of the Elbe.

  7. 01. Health is the number one reason for bankruptcy in a lot of countries I suggest a good healthcare system be created specifically for farmers.

    02. Crop insurance should be expanded to ensure the income of our farmers.

    03. Creating integrated systems is key to maximizing output and minimizing inputs. A Video link is attached to show an example of this.

    Ducks are used to manage pests and minimize fertilizer use. while duck raisers save on feed.

    Some more thoughts later after work.

    Cheers for the suggestions Joe.

  8. The basic questions here are:

    1) how much food does the country grow to feed itself and to have a certain safety in case imports fail in a global crisis. This is one reason why the EU subsidizes small and medium farms and they can sell food at a LOWER price than what it takes to produce. Japan does something similar. But both approaches are costly, probably not affordable in the Philippines. The Philippine approach of having local rice at a fixed high price and regulating imports (now changed by rice tarrification) is of course an open invitation to rice smugglers while the EU approach can mean excess stocks of food.

    2) how much does the country grow food to sell abroad and then buy from more efficient producers of rice like Vietnam and Thailand which have economies of scale due to large areas and big river systems like the entire Mekong?

    3) how much food can be grown to create value-added products like abaca for PPEs and composite materials? Value-added production brings more money in?

    4) how much food is grown as an alternative fuel source?

    5) how much land does one allot for different kinds of food from the available land? How many people’s jobs are dependent on different sorts of food? How does one compensate for loss of subsistence farming due to agribusiness through industrialization, for instance?

    6) in what areas does on ban mining in order to protect aquifers and fishing grounds?

    It is a very complex matter.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      Pertinent questions all.
      Our policymakers should have known the answers to these.
      Nice touch on enumeration btw.

    • karlgarcia says:

      In additional to my comment on Prime Agricultural lands, here is the policy brief for NALUA,

      Click to access PB%202013-01%20-%20NaLUA.pdf

    • karlgarcia says:

      In additional to my comment on Prime Agricultural lands, here is the policy brief for NALUA,

      Click to access PB%202013-01%20-%20NaLUA.pdf

    • karlgarcia says:

      This may not answer your question on where to ban mining, but it has some good tecommendations

      Click to access PB%202013-12%20-%20Mining_Policy%20Brief_final_revised_010614.pdf

    • karlgarcia says:

      For food vs fuel concerns.

      Click to access pidsdps1116.pdf

      “The Philippines approved the Biofuels Act of 2006 to promote energy security, the development of renewable energy, and to increase rural incomes and employment. However, expansion of farming to produce energy raises the prospect of competition with farming to produce food, thereby threatening food security. To allay this concern, biofuels proponents advocate production of feedstock only in marginal lands. This in turn raises a number of issues related to economic feasibility, equity, and environmental impact.
      Marginal lands confront several disadvantages that made them “marginal” for agriculture in the first place, e.g. remoteness from markets and population centers, high transport costs, lack of resources, poorly defined property rights, and so on. A similar set of problems may arise in converting these areas in feedstock production. On the other hand, agribusiness demand for biofuel could lead to a large-scale conversion of marginal or underutilized land for feedstock supply, displacing farmers currently residing in and cultivating these lands. Lastly, the expansion of agribusiness opportunities in marginal lands may be environmentally destructive if it promotes forest clearing, loss of biodiversity, and the spread of intensified agriculture. Precisely these effects have been attributed to rising biodiesel demand in the case of oil palm plantations in Indonesia“

      • karlgarcia says:

        Wikipedia defines marginal lands:

        “Marginal land is land that is of little agricultural value because crops produced from the area would be worth less than any rent paid for access to the area.[1] Although the term marginal is often used in a subjective sense for less-than-ideal lands, it is fundamentally an economic term[2] that is defined by the local economic context. Thus what constitutes marginal land varies both with location and over time: for example, “a soil profile with a set of specific biophysical characteristics reported as “marginal” in the US corn belt may be one of the better soils available in another context”.[3] Changes in product values – such as the ethanol-demand induced spike in corn prices – can result in formerly marginal lands becoming profitable.[3] Marginal lands can therefore be more difficult to delineate as compared to “abandoned crop lands” which reflect more clearly definable landowner-initiated land use changes.[4]“

    • sonny says:

      It begins and ends with cash, i.e. kinetic energy product of labor, ingenuity, stick-to-itiveness, luck, et al.

      The great chemical corporation Du Pont was said to do R & D like crazy. The result: for every product ending as a success in the market, there were tens more waiting in the research shelves of the R&D department. Ditto for another great, Procter & Gamble. The brains, laboratories of PH are waiting for that kinetic energy, money. 😦

  9. karlgarcia says:

    Here, the authors are implying that not all lands are created equal and only prime lands need protection. I know we should choose our battles, but it is always ideal to leave no one behind.

    Click to access PB_prime%20agri%20lands_final.pdf

    Another thing is prime lands are the target of large real estate developers, some prime landowners escaped land reform and sold them to those developers, and those that benefitted from land reform gets to sell their land as well, not knowing what to do with the land almost given to them because of lack of knowhow, tech, and money.

  10. pablonasid says:

    Karl, Irineo,

    Thank you for your blog. A subject close to my heart, and your points are very valid, but I think we missed some issues.

    Joe already pointed out in one of his blogs that a lack of accountability is killing Philippines. It also is very valid for the agricultural position of The Philippines. DA and LGU’s and DTI have many ‘nice initiatives’ with seminars with nice food and then it stops and the farmers are left alone. No accountability. Compare that to Vietnam. There, the agricultural advisor will visit your farm at least twice per year and go through your logbooks and check the farm. If you did not make the target production rate, the agricultural advisor and the farmer will make a recovery plan. Next time, if the production is still too low, the investigation will show WHY. If the farmer did not follow the advice (e.g. used too little fertilizer to save money’ or did not do sufficient weeding), then the farmer will get a warning. If it happens again, the farmer will be told ‘to take a rest’ and the land will be given to a farmer who CAN reach target production rates. That is why e.g. Vietnam’s coffee production rate per hectare is 5-10 times that of Philippines. ACCOUNTABILITY is a key factor. Agricultural advisors, farmers and processors are all to be held accountable for their actions (or lack thereof).

    Then, there is the issue of transport, Why was it cheaper to get my container from Europe to Manila than to get it from Manila to Iloilo??? Why was it that I knew up to the hour when the container would arrive in Manila, but there was a 5 day delay to get it from Manila to Iloilo???? When I visit the harbors in Singapore, Rotterdam, Hamburg or Sapporo, the cranes are always busy, trucks are lining up to receive their containers. Generally very busy. A well lubricated clockwork. When I arrive by boat in Cebu between 07:00 and 08:00, there is a dead silence in the harbor. Vessels are (un)loaded with forklifts and it takes a lot of time. The giant harbor cranes are idle. Other vessels are waiting offshore for a berth.
    No wonder shipping is so expensive/unreliable and that adds to the costs for the consumer. It certainly makes everything the farmer uses crazy expensive, hence the local costs for agricultural products are much more expensive than imported food. But you can also not distribute your agricultural products effectively if the transport system fails you.
    Also here, accountability could do miracles.

    And then, there is the ‘corn-issue’….. Every rain in the planting season literally brings tears to my eyes. I see an enormous runoff going to the sea. Topsoil is washed away and it disappears into the sea and rivers. In the sea, the pollution by the runoff soil is about 2 kilometers wide, stretching for a hundred kilometers along the coast in my area. That soil in the sea is lost forever. My grandchildren will only see bare mountains. It happened before when they cut all coconut trees and those area’s now are bare. And the spawning grounds in the sea are covered in mud and the fishes won’t lay their eggs there, fisheries is suffering. And why is this happening? During CARP, lots of the friends of the politicians got 5 hectares each. Those friends have jobs in America or elsewhere and they don’t care about the land, they just rent it out to a farmer. The farmer rents if for ONE season, so he could not care less about erosion control. A very pitiful sight when it rains, I go to the other side of the island where I don’t have to see this disaster. Rootcause: CARP.
    I would be very, very careful to stimulate seasonal crops like corn. In hilly country, it can be disastrous for the land. Often better to plant coffee. cacao, fruits.
    But, aforementioned agricultural advisor could resolve the issues.
    Accountability again, right, Joe?

    Fisheries. You are so correct about the bullying. Since we came to the island 30 years ago, I have seen the quantity of fish reducing to a trickle. And the population of our Brgy tripled. So, what are these people supposed to do?? Before, fishermen had a good income and the 11 kids of one particular neighbor are all professional, some with honors! Now, you cannot even send 2 kids to school from the catch and the community is suffering. I have seen this before in Europe, my old town had a fishing harbor full with about 30 boats. The fish disappeared and the boats were replaced with yachts. The fishing town died and became an extened living quarter for rich people from the capital. But, that ain’t gonna happen in rural Philippines, right? There, people are suffering if the fish disappears. There are no effective measures taken. In theory, everything is available, laws are made and the BFAR is equipped with boats, the police with guns and the intelligence is there. However, none of the laws are implemented and the BFAR ‘does not have fuel’ for their boats, their manning has installed a fixed TV dish on land to be able to see all their soapies instead of patrolling the sea. When I travel to Cebu and the ferry passes a particular area of about 50 km long, my heart bleeds. The amount of lights at sea gives the impression that we pass a major capital city. Lights everywhere. Actually, those are all illegal fishing structures. RP8550 is ‘only’ 22 years old, so why implement it??? Nobody is accountable, nothing happens, the sea gets fished empty. Our grandchildren will not be able to go fishing, just like what happened in Europe..
    Oh, and in my old town in Europe, the harbor was extended, it needed to accommodate those HUGE fishing vessels. They go fishing far away from home, the African coast, even up to Asia. Just like the Chinese and the Koreans and Japanese will do in front of the Philippine archipelago. No more fish in a few years.

    The laws are there, the money is there (maybe not enough, but use whatever we have)…The people are there, the knowledge is there. The opportunities are there and definitely, the need is there. Priorities-priorities. Accountability.

    Karlgarcia had the keypoint: “budget and implemention are the usual killjoys”
    I refer to the speech by Chief Seattle (even if it might not be reported accurately) where he issues a warning to everybody raping the land and it’s people: “Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.”

    And that brings me to Destiny.
    Already remarked is the loss of forest and “reforestation” would be the recovery method.
    But, from my house, I see about 70km of coastline and much of it used to be coconut land. In the ’70’s-’90’s, the coconuts were all cut and the rain washed the topsoil into the sea. It killed the sea below that land and now not even cogon grass grows on the once fertile land. The rest of the land which used to be covered with trees is now (being) converted to corn land and as I described, the topsoil is disappearing quickly here as well. In 10 years time, my grandchildren can hopefully see how trees look like because I am planting like a madman on my little plot. But, on the mainland, not much will be left. My friend who bought an M-16 to protect his 27hectares of seedlings will probably be wasted soon as the young trees now can be used for Uling. Remember Typhoon Frank? We all agreed that the cutting of the forest resulted in the flashfloods, resulting in the death of so many people. So, concrete channels were build to dispose the valuable rainwater quickly into the sea. The (mainly illegal) cutting of the forest continues. Too difficult to stop the illegal tree cutting and building concrete structures gives kickbacks.
    The end result is obvious.
    I expect the question: “So, if you know it so well, do something about it”…. Very well put…
    I worked for a year as a project coordinator in the muncip. From 08:00-17:00, free of charge. I found many good laws. None implemented, so let’s start somewhere and get going. It actually cost me a fortune. But my wife told me to stop. She did not want to get a security army as the threats became too persistent and increasingly nasty.
    So, we see the destruction at an ever increasing speed and our heart is bleeding. We know what will happen to the 95% of the people who are our friends, the people I live with, the people I love.
    But that is democracy. Responsibility comes with democracy. If we don’t act, Chief Seattle’s prediction might even come in my lifetime. It is scary, but we better face the facts.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Thank you for filling on the blanks by pointing out the missing issues. It is always appreciated.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        Priorities, accountability, and responsibility; three powerful words if you put them to action.

        • kasambahay says:

          sorry, KarlG, I think those famous three words namely of priorities, accountability and responsibility can easily be compromised and even vanished at the dinner table among the camaraderie of friends, kins and relatives.

          anybody going for those three words had better be prepared for hard to harder life like maybe losing dear friends, being alienated and often standing alone, ridiculed too and laughed at, belittled and maybe sabotaged at every turn.

          new friends can always be found, like minded friends. but it leaves a hole in one’s life, an ache hard to fill.

          • Karl Garcia says:

            Do not say sorry most of our ills can be solved by imenenting what Joe said in his blog about moral bankruptcy.
            Fertilizer scam.
            Coco Levy Fund Scam.
            We live is a scammed filled world.

            I still say add leadeship to accountability, responsibility priorities and add actionability too.

    • kasambahay says:

      pablonasid, salamat po, you give voice to the thoughts of many dying poor farmers when all falsehood disappear and death gives clarity. many poor farmers of yore were conned and sold a theory on self sufficiency via the grand vision of agrarian land reform.

      big landowners lost big tracks of land, poor farmers likewise, their given land sold off to pay crippling agricultural debts made worse by pests and natural catastrophes.

      so loss on loss, land lost on both sides dont make success. also, I think poor farmers were treated like chidlren, given vouchers for govt issue fertilizers so overpriced and eye gouging; albeit meant to bankrupt farmers, methink it was.

      farmers had asked to be given money so they can buy their own fertilizers. what cost around 28 pesos for a bottle of liquid fertilizer found in supply stores, the govt issue cost around 750 pesos a bottle; similar liquid fertilizers, big difference in price.

      apparently, govt did not trust poor farmers to handle money and so devise ways of not only apportioning money, but also conning farmers at the same time.

      the fertilizer fund scam put many poor farmers in debt trap, unable to fend off further expenses of daily living.

      • pablonasid says:

        The coco disaster all over again, correct?
        It was before my time, but the bad experience is still hurting many of my friends. CARP came thereafter and the damages that caused will be felt for many generations. Where is the accountability? Where is the leadership? Where is the empathy for the people still hurting?
        Must it really come down to Seattle’s sad forecast? Can we learn, support each other and thrive together or do we really want that crab mentality?

        • kasambahay says:

          tama po kayo, it’s coco disaster in another guise, again. history does not only repeat itself, it recycles as well.

    • Powerful assessment, pablonasid. Isn’t it amazing that Philippine leaders can’t think critically like this? Nor can media? Thank you for ‘the truth of the matter’.

      • sonny says:

        Joe, your reminder of ‘moral bankruptcy’ is still sticking in my craw. I’ve only reached that part what it is, where it occurs and why. What it is: the gap between moral principle and practice; where it occurs: in the person, in his family, in the community, all the way to the halls of governance feeds ba ck again for resonance. 😦 The WHY – we choose to be deaf to the time-tested formula: Love God and love thy neighbor as thyself.

  11. pablonasid says:

    Hear hear.
    Accountability and responsibility does not appear by itself. It takes leadership to design and implement the structures…
    And that leadership might pop up from unexpected places and in surprising formats. Who would have thought that New Zealand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and now even Italy could do the things they are doing? There is a lot to learn, but it also gives hope that leaders can appear when the country is in Dire Straits.
    But many societies don’t get it and history showed that those are the ones being run over.
    There is hope for a leader to rise to the challenge, mediocre leaders won’t turn the tide.

  12. karlgarcia says:

    Even I dislike Manila Times because of their seem non-receptiveness to any yellow idea, we must not be like them and be receptive to sound ideas if any.

    Hereisone problem: Small land size of the CARP beneficiary and if the owner dies, if is subdivided further.


    I can identify three major reasons our small farmers are mired in poverty based on reputable works of our leading scholars on the matter. The first, as noted by National Scientist and economics professor Raul Fabella (2014), is that the land retention ceiling under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) ensured that small farmers will never get out of poverty. The low retention ceiling (i.e., five hectares for family-cultivated farms, and three hectares each for their children up to four kids, making a total of 17 hectares) results in economically unviable farm sizes. With the passage of time, the original CARP beneficiaries further subdivided their lands as inheritance to their children and grandchildren into minuscule sizes. No wonder, the average farm land size in the Philippines is now less than 1.5 hectares.

    A farmer can earn a decent income from 1.5 hectares of land if he is cultivating high value crops like vegetables or cut flowers. However, if he is tilling traditional crops like rice, corn or coconut, there is no way he will earn a decent income from farming. No matter how efficient the farmer is in tending his farm, no matter how much assistance or subsidies the government provides to such a farmer, it will be impossible for him to earn an income adequate to support the needs of a family of five or six members with the land size that he has. It is worth pointing out that most of our farmers are engaged in the cultivation of traditional crops.

    Unorganized farmers

    There are millions of small farmers in the country. The government, in particular the Department of Agriculture (DA), whose headquarters is located in Metro Manila, cannot reach out to all of them. It is imperative that farmers be organized into cooperatives or associations to facilitate delivery of assistance from the government. Unfortunately, the history of cooperatives in the country is one replete with failures. From the heyday of the Facomas (farmers cooperative and marketing associations) in the 1950s, the Masagana 99 under the Marcos regime, to the establishment of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) under the Aquino administration, farmers’ cooperatives in the country are far from the beacon of success. The reasons are three-fold: the lack of accountability among farmer cooperative leaders; cooperatives and farmers’ associations are formed mainly to access government dole-outs; and the government agency (e.g., CDA), which has oversight responsibility on cooperatives, is oriented towards regulations of cooperatives rather than bestowing them with an agribusiness perspective.

    The situation is made worse by civil society organizations (CSOs) or people’s organizations (POs), which trumpet the goal of attaining self-reliance among farmers groups but are always at the frontlines of those who pillory the government if it fails to give dole-outs to the farmers. An excellent example is the badly conceived free irrigation scheme. Providing free supply of fresh water, when there is growing scarcity of it, encourages its wasteful use or consumption. It would have been better if irrigation fees are collected from farmers with the proviso the fees will be used to operate and maintain the irrigation system. This is a formula for self-reliance. Sadly, there is hardly anybody from the CSOs and POs championing this line of argument because they prefer the popular appeal of irrigation dole-outs.

    Role of LGUs

    The Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 assigned the delivery of basic services to local communities to local government units (LGUs). Part of this is the provision of agricultural services, and this is the reason behind the devolution of extension workers from the DA central office to the LGUs. Hence, any delivery of assistance coming from DA will have to be downloaded to its regional field offices (RFOs), which in turn will have to course their assistance through the provincial and municipal LGUs.

    There are two possible bottlenecks in this arrangement. One is the competency of the provincial and agricultural workers recruited by LGUs. In many cases, because they are political appointees (i.e., supporters of the incumbent), they are not qualified to do their jobs. And two, if the elected LGU official does not give priority to agricultural development because of bias towards big-ticket infrastructure projects (e.g., constructing sports complex, hospital complex [even without adequate supply of medical personnel], etc.) where the rent to be extracted is much higher than the implementation of agriculture development projects.

    In such a situation, the DA is held hostage. But it has no choice but to keep on convincing LGUs of the need to prioritize agriculture activities for two reasons. One is that it is DA’s mandate to promote agricultural development. And two, the agency automatically gets the blame for everything bad that happens in the local agricultural communities as the public is unmindful of the delineation of responsibilities between LGUs and the national agency as contained in the LGC.“

  13. karlgarcia says:

    Some people retire to be famers and here is one example.Plus she is lucky to have land.


  14. Karl Garcia says:

    From a top secret message from Sonny.

    My main concern/focus is to conserve, think about and leverage is our coconut and sugar industry! For now I think these crops are like what oil is to the Arabs.

    Topic themes:
    1. Extract ethanol from sugar …
    2. Use and/or extract Lauric Acid from Coconut for nutrition and medicine viz. Anti-Covid19 warfare
    3. Masterfully study a new hydrology for harnessing our yearly water deluge to sustain our limited rice production
    4. Use political will to conserve our reefs. We are surrounded by them!
    5. Harness our DOST brain power for computer processing, food technology
    6. DO DUE DILIGENCE on our financial IQ viz MMT as Micha and Chempo have touched on
    7. Ignite a nationalistic torch on butts of our ‘lazy’ oligarchs aka gate-keepers!!!

    • Karl Garcia says:

      Key points:
      “ Agricultural infrastructure would obviously be a significant component of “industrialization.” While we can credit the current leadership at the DA with giving the matter its due, it is something that should have been prioritized a long time ago, and in fact, for practical reasons probably should take precedence over the development of human capital even now. After all, it is a far more straightforward task, and in all likelihood a less costly one, to build a road or a warehouse than it is recruit and train a young farmer, as critical an objective as the latter may be. In any sort of business, the last mile is more important than the first; the finest product or service in the world is utterly irrelevant, unless it can be delivered to its customers. Here in the Philippines, although it is finally getting some attention, the last mile is a road that falls off a cliff.“

  15. Karl Garcia says:


    “What the concerned parties in each of the three sectors need to internalize if they are to have any hope of returning their crops to profitability is that their problems are not external. The low price of palay is not primarily due to the Rice Tariffication Act. The low wholesale price of sugar is not due to increased imports or the nefarious dealings of middle traders. And the low price of copra is not due to there not being enough of it (which seems to be the inexplicable policy conclusion of the Philippine Coconut Authority) or the lack of variety of copra-based products. All those factors simply aggravate the weaknesses that already exist. Addressing those factors puts policymakers in the impossible position of having to favor farmers at the expense of consumers; this can never work, because the farmers themselves are consumers.

    The real solution lies in innovation. Developing solutions will require a great deal of study and experimentation, and will take some time, because what innovations can be applied to each sector depend on factors unique to the crops as well as to the farmers who produce them. What works for rice farmers in Luzon might not be the answer for farmers in Mindanao, for instance.

    Fortunately, there do seem to be some people in each of the concerned sectors who are willing to think beyond simple protectionism in suggesting ways to improve their businesses. The coconut sector provides a couple of examples of possible solutions, and how they can be tested.“

  16. Karl Garcia says:

    Key points
    “THERE is news about Philippine agriculture almost every day, and virtually every headline heralds some grim development. In recent months, many of the news stories have been about the dire economic conditions for three of the country’s most important agricultural sectors, rice, sugar, and coconuts.

    All three of these sectors have for some period of time been suffering from historically low prices for their main products, milled rice, refined sugar, and copra, respectively. The rising volume of complaints in the past few weeks may give the public the impression that there is a full-blown crisis in progress, but it is largely due to the change in leadership at the Department of Agriculture. Having been disappointed in many ways by former Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, farmers and their advocates naturally want to get the attention of the new guy, particularly since Dr. William Dar has a not-undeserved reputation as a bit of a miracle worker….

    What the concerned parties in each of the three sectors need to internalize if they are to have any hope of returning their crops to profitability is that their problems are not external. The low price of palay is not primarily due to the Rice Tariffication Act. The low wholesale price of sugar is not due to increased imports or the nefarious dealings of middle traders. And the low price of copra is not due to there not being enough of it (which seems to be the inexplicable policy conclusion of the Philippine Coconut Authority) or the lack of variety of copra-based products. All those factors simply aggravate the weaknesses that already exist. Addressing those factors puts policymakers in the impossible position of having to favor farmers at the expense of consumers; this can never work, because the farmers themselves are consumers.

    Fortunately, there do seem to be some people in each of the concerned sectors who are willing to think beyond simple protectionism in suggesting ways to improve their businesses. The coconut sector provides a couple of examples of possible solutions, and how they can be tested.

    Recently, the PCA divulged details of a couple of its key initiatives, primarily boosting the yield of coconut farms and supplementing farm output through intercropping. PCA chief Gonzalo Duque, who is also relatively new on the job, said that his agency was seeking areas, mainly in Luzon, in which to plant new coconut farms, the implication being that older areas in the Visayas, Mindanao, and southern Luzon have exceeded their useful life. The new farms would most likely be planted with better, higher-yield trees that can produce nearly ten times more than the varieties found in existing plantations…..”

  17. pablonasid says:

    Makes sense, however, my build-in suspicion also tells me that it is possible to get kickbacks from road building while it is much more difficult to make money from human capital. And developing systems to spread knowledge and improve systems does not have to be expensive, it requires dedication.
    So, infrastructure: sure. But as part of an overall plan please.

    • We have to factor in that Napoles’ scam was actually training and capacity building types of projects. Where there was no training done and no farming implements distributed.

      Good COA people now require photos of roads and bridges built.

      • Karl Garcia says:

        Yes, photos are good evidences, because they do not lie unless photoshopped.

        • pablonasid says:

          Hai Karl, but pictures is not evidence. Structures where you KNOW what happened: substandard concrete, substandard reinforcement or no reinforcement at all, etc. etc. All issues covered by the concrete. You probably know what I mean. The end quality is poor, requiring quick replacement or repair. A huge waste of money. That comes on top of the stuff not delivered (like in the Napoles’ scam) or over-priced. Sad. Any reasonable audit job would show the shortcomings…. Again… No clear responsibilities, no accountabilities, no consequences.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      Thanks again Pablo for your insights.

  18. Karl Garcia says:

    Dropping links about factory farms.
    This one is about how the next pandemic might be causes by them.


    This one is about how over usage of antibiotics in factory farms makes it harder to fight infections.
    Remember, we eat them and that could make us antibiotic resistant.


    * There is also this practice of packing them like sardines inside the factory farms.

  19. Karl Garcia says:


    “Our food choices are a major driver of these changes. Half of global human-caused emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas roughly 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, comes from agriculture, namely livestock and rice cultivation. Up to 75 percent of nitrous oxide emissions — almost 300 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide — comes from nitrogen fertilizer.

    The United States is a case in point of diets driving land use. Of the 1.9 billion acres in the 48 contiguous states, 654 million acres are used as pasture land for livestock, 538 million acres are forested, and 391.5 million acres are used to grow crops. But of that cropland, only one-fifth is used for the food we directly eat. One-third of US cropland is allocated to growing feed for livestock, like corn and soy.

    The interplay between the land and the climate is incredibly complex. Mangroves suck carbon dioxide out of the air and bury it in the sediment below them. Swampland belches methane into the sky. Forests send out particles that trigger rain. Snow-sheathed tundra reflects sunlight back into space while rock and sand absorb heat.”

  20. Karl Garcia says:


    “ The Philippines has one of the longest running land reform programs in the world, dating back from the early 1900s. But the government is struggling to update its policies to suit the demands of the modern world.

    Land reform was initially instituted as a developmental program involving mainly the distribution of public lands. But by the early 1970s, it became a strategy to jump-start agriculture productivity by dismantling the hacienda estate system and eliminating inefficient tenancy arrangements in the Philippine agriculture sector. The program then shifted to a redistributive welfare scheme that was compulsory and implemented nationwide for both publicly and privately held land used for agric Over time, land reform has lost its political appeal. The budget for land acquisition and distribution has diminished from 0.44 per cent of GDP in 1988–1991 to 0.15 per cent of GDP for 2010–2016. At the turn of the 21st century, Congress had started to cut the budget for land acquisition and distribution. It gave low priority to the acquisition of new private land and directed the Department of Agrarian Reform to focus on support services for the more than 2.8 million land reform beneficiaries.

    The current administration is also facilitating the use of agricultural land for non-agriculture purposes. The Department of Agrarian Reform’s first Administrative Order of 2019 simplified this process of land conversion by doing away with necessary productivity and land use clearances from the Department of Agriculture and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board. ultural purposes….

    There is no way forward but to enable small farms to leapfrog into industrial agriculture systems.

    One way is for the government to support land consolidation schemes such as block farming. Block farming is a land consolidation concept that allows farmers to individually manage farms under consolidated operations. This can bring about economies of scale for crops that require significant inputs and mechanisation. Block farming has been shown to reduce production costs, increase farm productivity and incomes, and enable farmers to establish agribusiness activities.

    Land consolidation can also be done through joint farming. This involves land exchanges and sale to improve efficiency of agricultural land production. In countries that practice joint farming, government issued preferential policies on land transfers and transactions allow for temporary land acquisition, land renovation, and repurchase or lease of land tenures by the original owners.

    Another strategy to enable agribusiness is contract farming. Contract farming provides small farmers with access to technology, technical guidance, financing and new markets through partnerships with global firms. With higher and better quality production, linking agriculture to domestic and global manufacturing and industry systems becomes easier.

    Whichever path forward Philippine policymakers choose, the government has to provide the infrastructure and the legal and policy environment for these arrangements to flourish.“

  21. Karl Garcia says:


    “Would you rather let a million hectares of agricultural land remain undeveloped due to lack of capital or lease them to a foreign company? This, according to a ranking official of the Department of Agriculture (DA), is the government’s main consideration when it decided to lease to China’s Jilin Fuhua Agricultural Science and Technology Development Co., Ltd. (Fuhua Co.) some one million hectares of Philippine land under vague terms. The area covers about a tenth of all Philippine agricultural land. The DA says that the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Chinese company is just an additional strategy to meet the department’s goal under the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP), which is to develop two million hectares of agricultural land. But cause-oriented groups and some legislators have expressed concern over the potential implications of the contract on the agrarian reform program and on the country’s food security. Fuhua Co. intends to plant hybrid rice, corn, and sorghum in these lands. The contract is expected to bring in about US$3.87 billion in investments. The MOU with Fuhua Co. is one of 18 agriculture- and fisheries-related contracts that was signed in the presence of Chinese Premier Wen Jianbao when he visited Malacañang in January this year. The 18 contracts cover agriculture and fisheries research, the provision of facilities for fishery and agriculture, the investment of Chinese entities in local agribusiness, and other trade-related matters. (Click here to read the Summary of RP-China Deals Relating to Fisheries and Agriculture.) These agreements were hardly noticed until the scandal involving the national broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corp. broke. Following the Senate investigations into the ZTE deal, cause-oriented groups began calling for a scrutiny of the government’s agriculture and fisheries contracts with China. When President Arroyo announced the suspension of the ZTE deal, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap likewise announced that two of the 18 contracts—those that involve the lease of Philippine land—have been suspended as well. Unprecedented”

    Click to access sustainability-12-00097.pdf

    “In recent years, there has been a worldwide boom in overseas arable land investment [1,2]. This denotes foreign enterprises acquiring the right to use arable land in the host country (for short-term or long-term use) by means of purchase or lease and engaging in agricultural production investment activities [3,4]. There are three different performances of investment modes, including
    “public to public” mode, “public to private” mode, and “private to private” mode [5]. For investors, overseas arable land investment can secure external food security, ensure the supply of industrial raw materials, and yield investment profits [6]. For the host country, some studies consider investment in overseas farmland as a kind of “land grab” [7,8], and indicate that the rights of farmers in the host country are not effectively protected [8]. However, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports indicate that overseas arable land investment is actually a kind of transnational investment [9], and other studies conclude that overseas arable land investment brings employment opportunities to farmers [10], and improves agricultural output levels by sharing agricultural science and technology in underdeveloped areas [6,11]. Although there are both supporters and opponents of investment in overseas farmland, as a developing country with poor arable land resources China’s investment in overseas arable land has attracted great attention from international researchers [7,10–12].”

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