Farmers on the mountains of Cordillera are planting marijuana just to have a decent income. This was revealed when the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) conducted anti-illegal drug operations at the Cordillera Region. In the course of the operations, farmers were interviewed as to why they resorted to planting marijuana. The farmers said that planting vegetables can’t give them enough income to cover for their expenses at the farm and the needs of their families.
Vegetables that are being harvested in Cordillera are mostly transported to Metro Manila. There is constant demand for the vegetables of the Cordilleras and those vegetables are expensive. So then, why do Cordillera farmers have to resort to planting marijuana to have a decent living? The culprit is the poor roads in the Cordillera Region. For ten years, lamented by a farmer, vegetables are transported via unpaved roads. Because of uneasy transport, vegetables get bruised so much that buyers demand low prices for vegetables.
Farmlands in Samar have a different problem and that is irrigation. Many farms in the island of Samar rely on rain for water. The government has irrigation projects in the island that are not enough and also expensive.
The Philippines is still an agricultural country. The sad thing is that the Agricultural Sector was ignored. Development was focused on urban centers and this is the reason why many Filipinos left the provinces and live in the cities. The problems of farmers in Cordillera and Samar are the effect of the neglect on the Agriculture Sector. We are already in the 22nd Century but the Agriculture Sector is yet to be modernized. In other countries, farming is done by computer-controlled and GPS positioned tractors. In the Philippines, majority of our farmers still use the carabao. Thailanders benefited from what they learned from our International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) while majority of our farmers never heard of the flood-resistant variety of rice developed by that institute. While Japan is inviting foreigners to work on the farm, our farmers leave our farms because of low profit. The fact is that our Agriculture Sector was still primitive as compared to other countries. We are not getting the maximum possible yield from our farms.
People who blame the country’s population for the “food shortage” ignore the real cause of the problem. “Food shortage” is caused by the neglect of the Agriculture Sector and not by the number of Filipinos. Reducing the number of Filipinos will not solve the problem of the Agriculture Sector. What this sector needs is the modernization that is long overdue.