Candidates should talk about irrigation
Like the rest of the campaigning that preceded it, the recent first presidential candidates’ debate – the one held in Cagayan de Oro City on Feb. 16, 2016 – was replete with motherhood declarations and woefully short of detailed statements. Typical of the state of affairs was the treatment of the subject of this country’s agricultural sector.
The five candidates, without exception, spoke of the high importance of the agricultural sector to the elimination of poverty in this country and of how they would ensure that adequate resources were budgeted for the development of Philippine countryside. That was all they said. No details about the inadequacies and obstacles that Filipino farmers and fisherfolk faced and about what needed to be done so that the agriculture sector would no longer be the worst-performing sector of the Philippine economy.
The devil, as the expression goes, is in the details, and one of the details that this election’s presidential candidates have not wanted to get into is water. Not nearly enough of Philippine farms are irrigated. Given this country’s two climatic periods – the dry season and the less dry season – Philippine farms are deluged during the less dry season and starved for water during the remainder of the year. And that’s the normal situation. When the El Niño phenomenon strikes, as it is currently doing, multiply the problem many times.
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