You are on page 1of 38

Hope for Philippine

Agriculture …?
1. Philippine agriculture …
The Philippines is predominantly
an agricultural country. Its
agricultural setting can best be
described as composed of: small
farms; a humid tropical climate and
variable weather; varying
topographies and soil types; diverse
flora and fauna; and, a mélange of
cultures in numerous communities.
1. Philippine agriculture …

Of the total land area, 47%
(about 13 M ha) is devoted to various
agriculture activities. However, more
than 80% of the total agricultural
land is planted to three major crops:
rice, corn and coconut. Agriculture in
the Philippines is characterized as
generally small-scale and dependent
on manual labour.
Farmers in the Philippines are far
from homogenous:
1. Philippine agriculture…
a) commercial; b)semi-commercial;
c)subsistence; and
d)landless farm workers.

Typical of the country's small-scale
commodity production, rice farming,
as in most food crops, is dominated
by subsistence and semi-commercial
farmers cultivating an average of 1.5
hectares of farms. Comprising two-
thirds of the landowning population,
landholdings of these small farmers
1. Philippine agriculture …

Deriving scant income from
meager landholdings, poor rice
farmers join the landless peasant
population in toiling on large
landholdings comprising at least 75%
of the total farm area controlled by
only a fifth of the landholding
commercial production operations
1. Philippine
(mainly agriculture … corporations,
such as Del Monte and Dole), which are
mechanized, explains the high degree
of productivity in the sector. The
degree of commercialization among
livestock and poultry is higher and
there are more big players such as
Purefoods Corporation, RFM
Corporation and San Miguel
Corporation. Because of these factors,
agriculture productivity in the
Philippines from 1994-1996, as
measured by average value added per
worker, is the third highest in Asia next
1. Philippine agriculture …

Agriculture has been the main
driver of economic growth in recent
years. In 2001, the agricultural
sector accounted for 20% of GDP and
registered growth of 3.9%. In terms
of employment, about half of total
labour force is employed in
agricultural activities.
agricultural country, the Philippines is a
1. Philippine
net importer agriculture …
of agricultural products.
Latest available data show that the
Philippine agricultural trade performance
weakened as trade deficit increased by
27% in 2001 compared to that of the
previous year. This resulted from a
decline by 3.34 % in the value of
agricultural exports. The country's
agricultural exports generated $1,916.47
million in revenue, contributing about 6%
to the total Philippine exports in 2001.
Growth in agricultural imports of 5.37%
contributed to the situation. Import
expenditures in agriculture amounted to
1. Philippine agriculture …
This is surprising, considering that
the Philippines has one of the highest
productivity potential in Asia. In rice
for example, the International Rice
Research Institute (IRRI) sets its
maximum attainable yield at 6.30 t/ha
while the required yield to attain food
security is pegged at 5.30 t/ha. Figures
show, however, that the country's
actual mean yield in irrigated field has
never gone beyond 3.5 t/ha since its
accession to the WTO.
2. Government programs in agriculture
The “Ginintuang Masaganang Ani
(GMA) programs:

a. GMA rice (hybrid) program
b. GMA corn program
c. GMA fisheries program

d. High Value Crops (HVC) program
3. The rice economy in the
Agriculture is the base of
Philippines …
Philippine economy. It is the primary
indicator of development in the
country. This sector alone comprises
one-third of the source of income of
the country; rice farming is the
primary livelihood of more than 2.5
M farmers in the Philippines,
accounting for about 21% gross
value added from the agriculture
sector. Rice, is the staple food of
about 85 % of the total population of
the country.
3. The rice economy in the
Philippines …
Eleven percent (11%) of most
household expenses is for
purchasing rice, which makes up
about 35% of the total calorie intake
of a Filipino. The average
landholding of Filipino rice farmers is
around 1.5 ha or less. In 2000, only
0.8 M ha of the 4.04 M ha of rice
production area is effectively
3. The rice
Components of economy in the
the retail price of rice
(Garcia, Philippines
2001): … rice
farmers …………………….. 9%
Merchants price mark-up………………
…. 30%,
Land rent and interest payments ……
Transport and post-harvest facilities…
…….. 20%
Agrochem, labour and land
preparation ……. 19%.

This is one of the main reasons why
many rice farmers, who are using the
Just like any developing countries
3. Land tenure …
in Southeast Asia, security of land
tenure a common problem in the
Philippines (where seven out of ten
farmers do not own the land that they
till). This is the reason why agrarian
reform is the centerpiece program of
all Philippine Presidents since she got
her "independence" from the United
States in 1946. To address the
problem of land tenure, the
government tasked its Department of
Agrarian Reform (DAR) to speed up
the distribution of land beyond a
3. Land tenure …

Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries
(ARBs) or recipients of land are
organized into Agrarian Reform
Communities (ARCs) as conduits to
development programs aimed at
improving the livelihood of the
population and alleviate poverty in
the countryside. These programs are
the funded mainly by foreign grants
(mainly from EU countries).
3. ARC’s …
ARCs are delineated based on the
a) largecriteria:
contiguous area with
b) the arealandhas
a high density of
ARBs under different land tenure
improvement programs (e.g., holders
of certificates of land ownership,
integrated social forestry,
c) the
stewardship area is and
contracts); economically
3. Needs
In lateof1990's,
ARC’s the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations Technical Support to
Agrarian Reform and Rural
Development conducted consultation
workshops all over the country to
quantify the development needs of
ARCs. Results show (Box 2) that all
of the frequently mentioned needs
by the the are
ARCs exception
directly of potable
related to
water andagricultural
improving health services, all the
others needs identified are
agriculture related.
3. Needs of ARC’s
Box 1. Most frequently mentioned needs in 165 villages within
72 Agrarian Reform Communities
Rank Lack of: Mean (%) Standard
Deviation (%)

1 Roads and Bridges 96 4
2 Potable water 93 7
3 Capital and credit 89 8
4 Irrigation 82 16
5 Post harvest facilities 56 28
6 Health service 42 10
7 Extension service 32 27
8 Marketing service 27 20
• Farm machinery and 27 23
working animals
3. The rice economy and GMOs in
In the Philippines
1999, … Federal
the Swiss
Institute of Technology (ETH) in co-
operation with the University of the
Philippines Los Baños- College of
Agriculture (UPLB-CA) conducted a
study entitled “Public acceptance of
genetically engineered food in
developing countries: the case of the
Philippines”. The study investigated
the perception of the problems in the
Philippine rice economy and the
potential of genetic engineering for
3. Rice and GMO’s in the
The questionnaire
Philippines …was answered
by 65 respondents, who are all
active in the debate on genetic
engineering, from 46 different
organisations or institutions
classified into the following groups:
NGOs, including consumer
organisations (28%); government
institutions (23%); business sector
(12%); international research
institution, IRRI (9%); academe (8%);
legislators (6%); media (6%);
international foundations (5%);
3. Rice and GMO’s in the
Philippines …

Respondents were asked to
assess the importance of the
problems of the Philippine rice
economy according to a scale 1
(being least important) to 5 (being
most important). The same scale
was used to assess the potential of
genetic engineering for solving the
3. Ten most important problems of the Philippine rice economy
and the potential of genetic engineering for solving them

Rank Problem GE Potential for
Solving the Problem

1 Market conditions 16
2 Irrigation facilities 13
3 Post harvest facilities 12
4 Indebtedness 11
(high input costs)
5 Weak support services 17
6 Typhoon 15
7 Inefficient transport network 18
8 Unequal land distribution 19
9 Drought 6
10 High use of pesticides 4
3. Rice and GMO’s in the
Philippines …
Note that there is a mismatch in
the perceived problems and the
potential of genetic engineering in
solving them, i.e., the potential of
genetic engineering is highest in
problems that were perceived to be
minor problems. If the perception is
correct, it appears that the amount
of money being invested in
biotechnology is disproportionate to
its importance (at least in the case of
rice in the Philippines).
3. The Dr.
case of the
Ingo rice economy
Potrykus in
of the Swiss
the Institute
Philippines and of
the Technology
role of
the manengineering
who developed a rice
that has been genetically altered to
carry vitamin A (Golden Rice), and
who publicly declares that " it is up
to those opposed to GM technology
to justify the suffering they were
inflicting on millions of people", is
working on the following rice
problems to prove that "GMOs offer
many more opportunities for the
improvement of livelihood":
resistance to tungro virus, rice with
the C4 pathway of CO2 fixation, high
3. The Detractors
case of theofrice economy in
the Golden Rice
the Philippines
assert and theGolden
that the infamous role ofRice
solve Vitamin A
deficiency because it only contains
30 mcg of Vitamin A/100g of grain. It
a very inferior source of vitamin A
compared to carrots (217-434
mcg/100mg), spinach
(600mcg/100g), radish leaves
(750mcg/100g) and the Thai
vegetable "Tamlong", that contains
more than 800mcg/100g.  In fact,
one would have to consume 9 kg of
cooked rice everyday to meet the
3. The case of the rice economy in
the Philippines and the role of
genetic engineering
Whereas eating two carrots a
day or 200 mg of squash would more
than satisfy the recommendation.
Indeed, using the above contexts,
the use of the numerous techniques
of biotechnology to solve the
problems of the rice economy can be
likened to an airplane that did a
perfect landing, … in the wrong
Less than 10 years after joining
the WTO, implementing (some) its
commitments, with special safeguard
provisions and special treatment
clause failing to protect sensitive
products and items of "special
interest", Philippine experience is
mainly that of import surges, a
downward trend in production,
worsening dependence on imports of
staples and depressed prices for its
export crops.
Mass dislocation of small
farmholders, threatened food
security, stagnated development of
agriculture, reinforcement of
exploitative relations of production
and a host of emerging inequities
now dot the social and economic
landscape. The Philippines, second to
Japan in economic development in
Asia in the 1950-60's, is now
considered the basket case of Asia,
second only to Bangladesh!
Re-defining the agriculture R & D
The to address affecting
problems the problems
rural communities in the Philippines
transcend the biophysical-
technological spheres and include
economic, political, social and
cultural dimensions. Hence, to effect
constructive changes and impact,
the narrow scientific and commodity
approach to solving agricultural
problems will be ineffective and
Re-defining the agriculture R & D
agenda to address the problem

Instead, issues such as equitable
access to means of agricultural
production, especially land, fair
markets, farmers' rights, effects of
globalisation and liberalisation of
agricultural trade, and others must
taken into account.
For R&D to be meaningful and
a. Science should be for
relevant, the following elements
development of the poorest
must be considered:
sectors and not just an end in
itself. To be relevant to the poor
farmers in the country, science
and the technology it generate
(through agriculture research)
must be conceived as a process
of creating knowledge and
human capital to empower
communities and contribute to
supporting and stimulating
learning process. Research
For R&D to be meaningful and
relevant, the following elements
must be considered:

b. The link between strategic
research and delivery,
adaptation and diffusion of
technology is essential, and
should lead to the development
of local institutions to manage
and sustain them.
For R&D to be meaningful and
relevant, the following elements
must be considered:
c. Researchers/scientists should go
out of their comfortable research
stations and evolve into 'science-
animateurs' or collaborative
catalysts at the grassroots level.
Technologies generated should
fit into the circumstances of the
farmers’ fields rather than the
farmers adapting their farms to
suit the technology.
d. For R&D to be meaningful and
The identification and prioritisation of
relevant, theagenda
the research following elements
should be derived
from must be considered:
a full-fledged consultative process
at the local, national, regional and
international levels. The R&D agenda
formulation, research collaboration,
governance decision making and
monitoring and evaluation should be in
“bottom-up” fashion, preferably farmer-
led/driven rather than scientist
led/driven. This will ensure that the
research will be done, not because it is
interesting to the scientist/researchers,
but because it is to provide solution to
real problems in the farmers’ field. The
e. For R&D and
Farmers to be meaningful
farmer and be
groups should
treated asthe
relevant, active partnerselements
following rather than
‘passive targets’, ‘clients’,
must beorconsidered:
‘beneficiaries’ ‘end users’ of outputs
of research. Researchers and their
institutions should stop using farmers
(and NGOs) in developing countries as
‘the bread and butter of research and
justification for funding’. Token and
symbolic consultation to add value to
the research proposals should not be
tolerated. Instead, the tremendous
wealth of knowledge and wisdom
embedded in the experienced
practitioner- the farmer, must be
recognised, utilised and used as the
For R&D to be meaningful and
relevant, the following elements
must be considered:
f. Research should be directed at
food and nutrition security,
especially in marginal/vulnerable
environments where the poor live,
and guided by concerns of national
food sovereignty, right to food and
equity rather than directed only at
increased crop productivity and
short-term economic return.
For R&D to be meaningful and
g. relevant,
Technologies generated elements
the following by research
must have an agroecological basis
must be considered:
and should not create dependence
on purchased external inputs, but
rather should promote synergies and
stimulate ecological processes within
farms. Agricultural innovations must
also perform well in marginal
environments where the poorest of
the poor lives, minimize risks,
optimize systems rather than
commodity yields, conserve
resources and have additional
positive effects on nutrition and
For R&D to be meaningful and
• relevant, the following
Accountability elements
of researchers who
must be
developed considered:
technologies or systems
that turn out to be harmful to the
environment, human and animal
health must be institutionalised.
This is especially applicable to
researches on genetic engineering.
Also, the proprietorship of
knowledge, technologies and
products of publicly funded
researches and their accessibility
by farmers must be addressed.