Reliance on imported machines, fertilizers keeping PH farmers poor—expert
BACOLOD CITY—Making affordable locally produced farm machinery and encouraging farmers to go organic are the key to Philippine agriculture’s survival, a US-based Filipino agriculture bio-systems engineer said.
Manuel Reyes, a research professor at Kansas State University, was one of the resource persons at the “Philippine open systems agriculture machinery manufacturing workshop” at a Regenerative Agriculture International Conference at May’s Garden in the city that ended on Wednesday (July 6).
“We need to focus on agriculture where the money returns to the community,” Reyes said.
“We are dependent on sophisticated foreign machines that our farmers do not need. We need simple machines made by Filipinos for Filipinos,” he added.
Reyes said there was a need to veer away from buying expensive, complicated, and imported machinery that farmers cannot repair on their own.
“If the Philippines continues to rely on imported farm machinery, the farmers will always be stuck in poverty,” Reyes said.
“We need to develop machines for the farmers, targeting the farmers and giving employment to the community,” he added.
Reyes also stressed the need to focus on organic agriculture and the use of locally produced fertilizer.
“Organic fertilizer produced by local farmers will free the country from having to buy expensive imported fossil fuel-based fertilizer,” he said.
Organic farming, he said, will also enable farmers to diversify into other crops, protect the environment and biodiversity, and boost the health of the people.
Ramon Uy, president of the RU- Ecological and Agricultural Development Foundation Inc. that hosted the international conference, said the production of local farm machinery will provide jobs and organic fertilizer will be additional sources of income for farmers.
“Unfortunately the focus of the government is always on increasing production, not on increasing the wealth of the farmers,” he said.
“More production does not translate to more profit for the farmers. There should be focus on how to make the farmers rich and farming sustainable,” he said.
Uy said he hoped President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. puts more focus on organic farming and allocates a larger budget for it.
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