Up to now, the president has yet to choose a secretary for the Department of Agriculture that could lead the agency and help the country’s farmers in general. Indeed, our farmers need help in many aspects, and these have to be addressed by the government.
Despite the many advances modern agricultural technology has made, many of our upland farmers in remote areas are still backward with their farming methods, depriving them of good produce, and impairing the soil they till into becoming more and more unfit for planting.
The farmers behind the kaingin method are good examples of this. They would cut the weeds, including the trees standing in the area, and then burn everything to the ground later. This is a practice that remains rampant in rural areas due to the belief that the ashes contribute to the soil’s enrichment and fertility.
The clearing may prove yet fertile during the first planting season. But the soil, given this cut-and-burn procedure, becomes barren in the long run as the cut grasses and all that could have been allowed to decay to enhance soil fertility, are being burned instead, depriving the soil of natural fertilizers.
In an agricultural country like ours, such farming practices should have been corrected long ago. Agricultural experts, backed by the Department of Agriculture, should intervene through information dissemination that may be followed by constant monitoring to confirm the farmers’ implementation of what they learn.
Authorities should ensure this knowing that some unlettered farmers are so stubborn enough that they just stick to conventional farming that they have learned from their forbears. They tend to reject modern methods that prove alien to them.
To reach these farmers, local radio stations may be tapped. All sorts of gimmicks may be employed to get their attention to a radio program that could help them become effective farmers through various methods. Moreover, the particular problems encountered in their respective areas must be addressed to ensure the relevance of discussions.
Lastly, such information drive must observe consistency, if not perpetuated on air so that farmers who operate on fallacies and ancient practices would become more productive and well off. One-time airing of such educational radio programs will not suffice as the majority of farmers may not be able to hear it. A repetition of the same may prove better.
This could be the most appropriate empowerment we could give to our lowly farmers now when everything seems to have been modernized. It would be ironic for farmers to remain ancient with their farming strategies when better techniques can make them more productive, hence assets that the country can count on.