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Sa Akon Lang Opinyon

Big highlight of GMA’s trip to Spain, as Inquirer.Net 12/06/2007 has put it: “Philippine agriculture to get P16.2B from Spain”. And this is possible because GMA brought along and paraded 40 members of Philippine Congress before the Spanish Cortes and personally talked the Spaniards into that! And who disagrees? Cheers, folks!

So, Spaniards are interested to invest in Biofuels business in the Philippines. That, I think, is simple and objective way of saying things. The interest in biofuels is in fact global. The North Americans have their eyes focused in the vast agricultural potentials of South America. Japan has it’s in the whole of Asia and South America. Interested investors in biofuels need very little invitation.

If Filipinos want these investments to come and materialize in the Philippines, I believe what is needed here is liberalization of our laws by congress that restrict these foreign capitals. Unggoyin na lang natin ang mga Braziliano. If to create more jobs is the issue, I don’t think there is any difference between black, brown, white, or yellow skins, is there?

Like, maybe foreigners should be allowed to buy agricultural lands from Filipino farmers, or put up Biofuel businesses wholly owned by them, if they are what investors think are best. There are aliens who are actually gambling – buying land or putting up businesses, placing them in dummies’ names, making bullshit of some Philippine laws, practice that everybody turns blind eyes to, anyway;

Awarding of land grants should be limited to landless and destitute Filipinos. If selling land, or for their children and grand children to toil for another man tomorrow is their idea of life, so be it. Liberalization will make things better for these landowners. Foreigners are known to buy high which by relativity is cheap to them actually when locals buy cheaper. Freer competition will favor landowners whom nobody can stop from selling land sooner or later, for one legitimate reason or another, anyway. Besides, there is nothing immoral or degrading being wage earners except when people are paid slave wages ;

Modify CARP to exempt productive lands by their serious owners and correct or do away with impractical land “retention” limit. Presently any agricultural land in excess of 5 hectares can be subject to land reform. By exempting ‘agro-forest’ and ‘industrial’ lands we saw PRIME arable agricultural lands converted to such, that nobody had prevented. Howling residential subdivisions have sprouted all over Negros where there were once agriculture) ;

Allow interested Biofuel business entities to locate their plant where they think there is business. Like, maybe the Arroyos can place theirs near BISCOM of the Chans, or near SONEDCO of the Gokongweis, or in Sta Catalina of the Teveses. Presently, location of bio-fuels plant if there is any, is at the whim or discretion of politics. Senate wants them outside of sugar lands. Malacanang Palace gave discretion to Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA) that is administered by Palace appointees.

Knowing Political economy in this country, I don’t think everything is that easy for EVERYBODY, and for anybody to expect progress to come easy soon.

The Japanese see the future of Bio-Diesel in CME [Coco Methyl Esters] or biofuels out of coconut oil. The Malaysians are already in there ahead by a decade. Technically, maybe Jatropha is better than coconut. Fresh Jatropha’s nut burns readily when coco nut takes time. It’s been used by Filipinos to light during the time that there was no flashlight. (How’d you do that? Break pods and take out fresh nuts. String them all with a coco stick or maybe a ga. 20 wire is better. Light the end and find your way in the dark. It works!)

The Philippines, an archipelago, has one of the longest coastlines in the world. Coconuts, tropical trees that can grow inland, are naturals of the coastlines. Windy condition and salinity of soil have naturally selected them among other vegetations. Coconut oil is the biggest agricultural export of the Philippines. Apparently the Japanese have their eyes hard at those facts. Practicality… Aside to that, there are also talks of them interested in developing 200 – 600 thousand hectares of (public?) land in the country for CME.

The Philippines has another asset, if you will call it that – millions of hectares of denuded territories that the map says are “Forestland”. Negros has several hundred thousand hectares of them. There are or were reforestation efforts in some of them aided by international communities. Along the way from Brgy Magballo to Brgy Pingot is one such project. You will not believe it if somebody tells you how much each surviving tree standing there today costs! In the Negros experience, reforestation is good while promotion money flows. Number one enemy of agro-forestry and reforestation is grass fires. Projects of Mosser (American?) Environment Foundation based in Himamaylan seem better apparently due to sustained funding.

In Cassava, I believe San Miguel Corporation (SMC) knows best in there. The company has been the prime promoter of Cassava in the Philippines especially in Negros and Mindanao. Cassava is the raw material for traditional Ginebra San Miguel or Gin. It is also used by SMC in animal feeds production. UNISTARCH folded out in Pingot in 2005. Perhaps Abengoa Bioenergy, one of those reported to be interested for cassava in the country, knows better?  I do not think so.

One crack into these denuded forestlands is the Forest Stewardship program coupled by Agro-forestry program. Feasibility of Jatropha culture is anchored at them by its proponents. Apparently, feasibility is also based in the condition that there are hungry Filipino families in the outbacks that literally scratch for a living – taking opportunity of that cheap labor, many of them will work for food.

Technically, I may agree that sugarcane by man, for example, is as good as Cogon grass chosen by Mother Nature, to check top soil erosion of bare land. But of course there is nothing compared to real rain-forest in holding back rain water while preventing landslides.

But one more hitch, not an inch of idle public land is without claimant or interested parties to it. Call them ignorant, but we have people who care little about owning land, been out there for generations and traditions, and no problem with them as long as they till or they feel they own the land unmolested. When one sees howling grassland, people are surely somewhere doing something else. Add Environmentalist groups, the Church, the rebels, not to exclude some crabs and everybody in the picture and what have we got? I think one needs more soldiers and instruments of war to push some luck in there. Maybe, Pingot Agro-Forestry Development Association, out of experience, knows better than that.

Use of public lands for bio-fuels under the clout of reforestation is in for a big hitch.

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4 Responses

  1. Kugon (also Cogon)

    Cogon is a grass that is commonly found in the Philippines. It has blade-shape narrow leaves that can grow to about 2 cm in width and about 1 meter in height in a clump. Farmers in the countryside use Kugon for thatch-hut roofing. Eatable but non-favorite of cattle, Cogon is a stubborn type of grass to weed out manually. Plowing, harrowing and later uprooting survivors in loose soil, manage them.

    Cogon bears fluffy flower with tiny seeds that when mature are scattered or borne by wind. They easily spread and saturate over wide-open areas, or as soon as land is cleared. Where they have established, they also propagate by tuber like shoots or roots, sweet in taste, which can survive grass fire. Shoots, upon surfacing, also develop into new clumps. They easily catch and spread fire especially during summer. They can re-grow in a very short span of time choking other competitors. Fire, in fact, helps Cogon to dominate land.

    Frequent grassfires is one of the reasons why large scale agro-forestry has not gained popularity with settlers in the mountains. It’s not that they are born lazy which is the impression of them by others.

    One nearest competition of Cogon is Hagonoy- called Poison weeds or considered plague by ranchers. They are perennial shrubs that are also airborne. Unmolested by ruminants because of their yakky ugh taste, they can grow and spread in contiguous manner choking competitors in their paths. A root or a stump can re-grow making them tough to eradicate. They grow taller than cassava and Jatropha Curcas.

    Probably another way of controlling weeds, thus minimizing the threat of grass fires, is by use of herbicide but which would be questionable like when terrain is a slope. Killing weeds with herbicide coupled by landscaping – Bermuda or Carabao grass, for example, why nobody has ever thought about that!

    Farmers think that it would be silly when planting coconuts that will naturally wither down all misfits in their shadow would be (more) profitable. And profit is one motivation here to save Mother Earth – the objective.

    Coconuts have many other uses. And unlike Jatrophas, government does not have to pay farmers to plant coconut trees for their own good. Maybe a little nationwide loan program, as incentive, would kick CME program high on its way while emancipating miserable farmers at the grassroots.

    Matter is, the Britons and the Spaniards think Filipinos should be planting every inch with Jatrophas and they have grants. Well? There is hays for horses, folks!

  2. […] 3. Sa Akon Lang Opinyon Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Filipino Farmers Hold Anti-Government Protest In SouthGABRIELA MAINTAINS FAILED CARP SHOULD NOT BE EXTENDEDGABRIELA SOLON SAYS NO TO COMPREHENSIVE AGRARIAN REFORM PROGRAM EXTENSION, … […]

  3. [Greetings,]
    I have already seen it somethere

    Thanks
    Tania

  4. Really?…I like your name.

    But I had to delete some links 🙂

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