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Monday, December 10, 2012

"It is useless to argue on population control when we cannot even feed our own people."

From Manila Standard:

By Rod Kapunan 

The basic reason I sneer at those hypocrites advocating the passage of the reproductive health bill is not my religious belief. It is my contempt of their waste of time trying to limit our population when they should be concentrating on increasing our food production.  I am pretty sure there would be no debate on the issue because basic logic tells us it is useless to argue on population control when we cannot even feed for (sic) our own people.

We must bear it in mind that we have a sizable number of people suffering from hunger. They are in dire need of employment, not necessarily for them to improve their lives, but just to be assured that by sundown, their families would have something to eat, and  none of their children would go to sleep on an empty stomach.  Such is most poignant because hunger now stalks a number of our people.

In fact, the debate on the issue of population is a fallacy that has long been exposed.  Countries such as China, India and Indonesia have, for a long time, been pointed to as classic cases of countries where, accordingly, population growth has overtaken their economic development.  For that, stereotype economists have written off prospects for economic development  because of their runaway population growth.

No doubt, they were influenced by that doomsday theory of Thomas Malthus, a British economist who said that “should human population explosion increase faster than food supply, it would eventually reach a resource limit (overpopulation), and any further increase could result in a population crush caused by famine, disease, and war.”  Today, his theory stands as fiction because those countries have not only been able to feed their own people, but have become net exporters of rice and grains.

Like Malthus, the believers of that doomsday theory failed to foresee that advances in science could result in increased food production often outpacing their food requirements. Thus, instead of seeing our bulging population as a problem, they should focus on how to make use of our  abundant labor to generate more production. These modern-day Malthusian alarmists even failed to analyze the close link between food production and industrialization. Increase in manufactured and industrial products allowed these countries to sell their  goods at higher value for them to import from countries that could produce food products at much cheaper costs.

That now catalyzed the truth about the comparative advantage formula of Adam Smith.  Gradually, as they continue to advance industrially,  they apply their technology to boost their own food production.  This now explains why their food production has correlatively increased at a much faster pace.  Many predict that in the near future, China, India and those newly industrialized states would not only be able to achieve self-sufficiency in food, but could even join the league of food exporters. We can cite Japan, which has a population of 127.3 million yet remains self-sufficient in food production. In fact, we have more tillable and arable lands than Japan.  Why could we hardly feed our own  people?

Notably, after the ouster of Marcos, our food production has rapidly declined.  That happened because we revised our entire approach to food production by focusing on how to increase the price of  our goods as our way to encourage food production.  Succeeding administrations then began abolishing the subsidy on farm inputs for accordingly, that caused the price of rice and corn to remain low.   Since the core of their opposition was to deregulate the price of the commodities, that to them would be a form of incentive to the farmers that in turn would  induce investment.

Unfortunately, the price of rice and corn astronomically increased. Our leaders forgot that a steep increase in the cost of production would be beyond the reach of many farmers. The magic of deregulation did not bring about the fortune of increased income. Their misery was compounded because subsidy for irrigation, for  the purchase of harvested palay, and the credit support facilities were stopped. These were factors that liberated the country from being a perennial rice importer during the time of President Marcos.

Corollary to that lackadaisical decision was the catastrophic decline in food production. Many farms became idle, existing irrigation canals were abandoned and left to decay, and the land reform program suffered tremendous setbacks as many beneficiaries opted to sell their lands. They did this notwithstanding the fact that their earnings lagged from what the workers in the urban centers were receiving under the minimum wage law.

Saddled by that criminally inspired inflationary monetary policy, importation became cheaper than farming, although at a terrible cost to our consumers.  The “Dagupan rice cartel” that manipulated the price of rice before martial law was resurrected, specifically after the scrapping of the presidential decree giving the National Grains Authority the monopoly to buy and sell rice and  corn.   The rice cartel did not only regain control of the business; it regulated the supply to keep the price high.

As rice traders continued to choke small farmers by pegging the cost of their palay during bumper harvest, multinational corporations like Monsanto  imposed a tight monopoly in the supply of hybrid seedlings, which seeds could not be replanted for another crop season. Worse, the hybrid seedlings, which were genetically engineered,  required much water, and heavy dose of fertilizer and chemicals to achieve the desired result.

In the end, the ruined and devastated agricultural farmlands has caused unprecedented migration of landless and farmers with small landholdings to the urban centers in search of employment just to escape hunger that now haunts them and their family. For the swelling number of squatters that have become an eyesore to the hypocrites, population is now the ire of the RH proponents.

Look who’s talking.

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