EDITORIAL: Orphans of Progress
As we strive to rebuild and rebuild better after the pandemic there will those who will be benefited by the manna from government, but there will be those who will be left behind. The process of change is not inclusive, there are always casualties along the way.
The formal economic sectors composed of the big and large industries, small and medium enterprises stand to benefit from the technical support and business innovations but the old system of service delivery and the traditional elitist and bureaucratic habits will be hard to forget.
The United Nations, through the World Economic Forum (WEF) declared; “After COVID-19, a Rural Revolution can Drive Sustainable Recovery. When this virus passes, we will have an opportunity to remake the world. To build sustainable, resilient and harmonious societies. We must begin with the food on our tables – where it comes from, how it reaches us, and what it means to us”.
The response of the present administration is swift and on-target: to focus on agriculture that are confined in our rural areas and communities. In agriculture we are talking about change in the application of farm technologies in production, processing, distribution of rural agricultural produce: rice, fish, meat, vegetables, fruits and a variety of food products.
Revolution is about change. But, a literal interpretation of the term is fearsome and open the danger of generating radical versions, and given the opportunity, conveniently join the popular clamour for change and thereby rekindle social activism based on Marxist theories of revolution.
We do not want our rural farmers be turned into closed economic enclaves to produce food sufficient only for their local community’s need? We want them to produce surplus to feed non-food producing citizens. We want to make farmers participants and at the same time beneficiaries of our national economic development strategies. We don’t want small rural agriculture producers to remain the perpetual orphans of progress and development. Hence there must be a comprehensive policy and program interpretation that will satisfy the interests of all stakeholders in the rural agriculture industry.
This means a revolution of our collective attitudes towards rural agriculture. This needs capacity enhancement not just in production skills and processes but in practical and applicable entrepreneurial ability for self-growth and development. Our policy of AYUDA and conditional economic subsidy must include educating our rural producers and informal business operators in simple and practical tools and strategies to convert their daily hand-to-mouth livelihood subsistence into profit-oriented enterprise, in diversifying their economic activities and increasing family incomes while operating within a dual and informal rural economy. We must enhance their capacity in entrepreneurship and economic literacy.
Maybe it is time to look for private academic institutions who are already doing this program and just provide them UN, government, and private corporate sector support they need to continue this important post-crisis rehabilitation. WE NEED A STRONG AND SUSTAINABLE RURAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP REVOLUTION.