A National Agricultural Policy Agenda Model

I am here not to counter the New Thinking paradigm for agricultural modernization of the Philippines. I just want to state the fact that 30 years ago, I saw already most of these organized systems of agriculture in the Netherlands. The ancient irrigation system maintained by the community, the land consolidation and swapping they carried out for efficiency, and the cooperation of farmers to adjust to modern tools, for instance, farm management computerization at that time when Lotus 123 and Wordstar were the only easily learned software, were just examples of Dutch passion for organization and efficiency that I saw. The Dutch also pioneered the early practice of community-based industrialization in shipbuilding. How a ship was built with every family bringing a part of the ship without the metric system yet was an incredible feat of engineering. More importantly, we were told that the system of sharing profit in the merchandise brought by the ship back was an early form of Project Finance.

In this national agricultural development plan that I prepared for a small country, there are only five main components. First is the organized system of agriculture, second is agricultural support services, third is infrastructure, fourth is fund generation and investment, and fifth is project implementation and policy, including legislative support. The five components have a functional relationship with each other that provide strength and stability to the inclusive national agricultural development program.

Fiji is also like the Philippines, with many government corporations created for a specific crop or a business in a particular area. For instance, the famous Fiji Water is located in a property owned by a government corporation with cattle production as the main business. There are corporations for sugar, rice, dairy, etc. Most of them are not performing well and are being subsidized by the government. There are so many laws, and many are no longer relevant. In fact, it can be put together into one law, an Omnibus Agricultural Modernization Law that is also proposed in the development agenda.

I also saw a similarity with respect to the adoption of a national development program. In the Philippines, the AFMA was not fully embraced because the existing DA bureaucracy saw it only as an incremental program. There was inadequacy in the interpretation of the law. In this national agenda that I prepared, the Ministry of Agriculture could not take off because they could not get out from what they are doing. In the Philippines, it took 20 years before they are again talking about agricultural modernization. In Fiji, the national agenda was just launched officially in August 2014. It has already taken them five years. I think it is just normal and they will realize later on if they will face serious agriculture problem. I presume they will have no option than to embrace an inclusive plan.

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