By JULLIE Y. DAZA
We need an executive order abolishing Fire Prevention Month, the fieriest month.
Temperatures are rising, the land is parched and killing crops, the dams are thirsty. Farmers are at their wit’s end – where to get water freely, how to save what they have planted? The worst place to be now is the Department of Agriculture. After logging one of the dreariest performances in the Cabinet, the department is facing a crisis that’s way beyond their polemic and other skills to tame.
After the rains and three typhoons late last year, nature is showing us the other side of the coin. Must it always be like this, a cycle of floods followed by a cycle of drought, with the poor farmer trapped in-between? It is also our misfortune that we have not been able to mitigate climate change. A series of fires that swept Benguet a few weeks ago did not erupt by spontaneous combustion, did it?
Alas, “poor farmer” grates on the ears of the most dedicated farmer-journalist I know, Zac Sarian, who handles the agriculture section of this paper six, seven times a week. Zac believes that by perennially describing the Filipino farmer as impoverished, we are degrading his profession, discouraging his heirs from tilling the soil with pride and honor. Truth is, farming has produced a mighty harvest of millionaires who used their God-given land and knowledge in combination with science, technology, machines, management knowhow, diversification, and imagination to jump from season to season of plenty and progress.
For the farmer who has no need to rely on government for the things that nature has not given him, it’s still true that planting is never fun, but it’s also true that Cynthia Villar, Henry Limbonliong, Mila O. How, and Isa Cojuangco Suntay have in their own way propagated the joys of farming. Senator Villar with her farm schools, Henry with his hybrid rice, MOH with her Universal Harvester products and UH Villages, Dr. Isa with her vegetable gardens and farm animals donated to military camps. It is a measure of my ignorance that to write about the glory, instead of the impecuniousness, of farming I can only cite people I personally know.
May this brief essay plant a seed in the aspirations of the high school class of 2019.