“Agriculture is the fundamental source of national prosperity.” – J. J. Mapes
By philosophy, we can definitely connect everything to agriculture. Agriculture is largely based on land – a land that is nurtured, protected and productive.
There have been numerous undertakings on agricultural practices in Negros. The government with its considerable vast resources – the local government units and the line agencies are major stakeholders in partnership with the other actors– the small farmers and ARB’s. This is a solid tandem if pursued consistently. I say, “consistently” because there seemed to be the lack of pursuit and commitment on the former while the latter understandably lack the necessary resources such as technology, farm inputs and financial capitalization, visi-a-vis the demands for agricultural productivity and modernization including its scale. On the other hand, small farmers and ARB’s have the man power and the major element, the land to roll out this endeavor.
The private sectors – the NGOs and academe and other private companies with their corporate social responsibilities significantly shift efforts to agriculture in the past decade. This is in recognition on the importance of agriculture regardless of the motive and purpose.
LAND USE POLICY
With the topography of Negros especially on agricultural lands, its crops and the irrigation engineering or the lack of it always poses the question: “When will the land use plan of Negros, in consideration to agriculture be enhanced, improved or updated? From the Northern part to the southern part of Negros of the province there are vast areas of which have the potentials to be developed most especially the southern part. In relation to this, the government must seriously consider land use policies without sacrificing agriculture, but instead, pursue enhancement physical and infrastructural development is inevitable. As this goes on the demand for agriculture increases. Thus, it is crucial that the balance between them must be interconnected and harmonized. Land use vis-à-vis agricultural productivity must not only be considered but prioritized.
Mindset and commitment must go with it. One major recommendation can be based agricultural characteristic of particular area or, district. At a glance, the southern part of Negros has the biggest potential for agriculture but considerably lacks the technology and irrigation, in order to be productive and sustainable. On the other hand, the northern part still remains in the hands of the few where productivity resulting from therein, are not equally re-distributed and, to a certain extent curtails agricultural development and diversification. And, the central part of the province that remains to be the main source of our staple needs a major technological improvement and re-engineering in consideration to the land fertility and needs thorough re-evaluation.
The national and local governments must undertake measures to re-energize Negros’ agriculture. Vast idle agricultural lands must have serious studies before undertaking land conversions in terms of its social and economic values. A re-thinking process should be other way for this purpose.
The post-pandemic scenarios present that Negros economy is on recovery – urban infrastructure development, tourism, real estate, service and entertainment are on a momentum where agriculture is integral in all of these aspects. There is influx of people to the urban centers from other parts of the island and other provinces and, not only from other parts of the province.
The demand for food is directly proportional to the others in rolling out economic recovery. The need for a comprehensive and synchronized land use plan is important at this juncture Negros agriculture shall play a central part. In this undertaking, planners must prioritize and develop its own food base to sustain the need of its people. This can be done by pulling all resources and stakeholders of Negros agriculture.
And, while we pride ourselves as an agricultural province – it is also important that we do not only live up to the expectation but, more than anything else ensure agricultural reinvigoration pursuing food security and self-reliance in the midst of economic economy.
The ARB’s and small farmers as major actors have inherent technologies and wisdom in re-propelling Negros agriculture that should not be taken for granted. Finally, the private sector especially the civil society are equally integral and must be given adequate space to partake their respective perspectives and experience in this undertaking.*