“Agriculture is at the core of the state.” – Anonymous
This year promises a lot of surprises and challenges. If world leaders resonate on the importance of governance, one thing that must always be on top of the agenda is agriculture – to ensure food security and on how to address major global challenges. The United Nations set the millennium development agenda and on top is eradicating hunger and poverty by 2030. Farfetched, as consistency of plans and the will to significantly reduce global hunger and poverty, if not eradicate them must be in order.
Facing this major challenge, however, poses threats that most states find difficult to overcome, much less if the political will doesn’t set in, which I doubt is most likely to prevail. All the more, the push for revolutionizing agriculture is a must, and at the same time addressing the century menace of hunger and poverty.
AGRICULTURE’S GLOBAL CHALLENGES
There are gargantuan challenges towards this end and they are not new, but the lack of political will is consistently absent, especially from the advanced states who are now considered culprits rather than saviors against these challenges besetting us. Enumerating them, one may find hopelessness in his lifetime but, so we go.
Climate change will have a significant impact on agriculture, that will cause yield reduction leading to widespread food insecurity.
This is expected to be hotter than 2023, considered one of the hottest years in the past 10,000 years. Climate change is a complex and multifaceted threat and difficult to predict exact temperature changes but, what is clearer is that its impact is felt all throughout, severely affecting agriculture.
The planet’s population is expected to reach 8.5 billion in the next five years or so, and the demand for food will increase, putting so much pressure on agriculture. In hindsight, Africa’s population today is almost 1.5 billion and is estimated to increase by 2 to 3 percent annually and Asia is more than 4.5 billion, expected to increase 0.5 percent annually.
We are bound to face a tougher challenge from the lack of water, most especially from what they call “water-stressed” regions of the globe that would result in crop reduction, causing lack of adequate food and nutrients around the world mainly in Africa and Asia. Subsequently, land degradation is a threat to farming regions and this includes soil erosion significantly affecting land productivity.
A tougher problem is food waste. Annual food waste as projected will not be lower than 30 percent annually. As the population increases food demand increases and so is food waste.
PHILIPPINE AGRICULTURE: BLEAK PROSPECTS
Domestically, agriculture shows a quite bleak projection. Challenges that Philippine agriculture faces this year are recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that had a significant impact. This led to more importation because of decreased crop production and increased food prices. We have been marred by the African Swine Flu that hit hog raisers significantly. This livestock is a major contributor to the economy.
More specifically, the lack of credit access, massive land conversion, and the lack of government support derails and stagnates agricultural production. Climate change and lack of water are the perennial concerns that are not fully addressed.
I am more inclined to think that the national government’s solution to the agriculture challenges is heading in a different direction – where policies and laws crafted are more on importation rather than revolutionizing our agricultural systems and technology.
In Negros, sugar production might suffer a blow in its production. According to SRA, sugar production in 2024 will decrease by 10-15 percent due to the on-going El Niño phenomenon and raw sugar production is only estimated at 1.85 million metric tons.
ACTIONS NOT BLUE PRINT SOLUTIONS
In the last two decades or so, there were tons of alternatives and solutions offered to these challenges that we face, spearheaded by the United Nations, developed states, under developed, and developing ones. At the national and local levels, leaders, experts, agricultural planners, engineers, and managers have never run out of ideas on how to address these challenges in the context of economic growth, mitigating climate change concerns and, most of all, ensuring food security.
Unfortunately, while blueprints multiply budget allocations, commitment and political will were becoming less and less.
This piece is a repeat of the previous ones I wrote, why? It is because we call for action – immediate bold actions with significant impacts not blue prints.*