EDITORIAL: The Old Bullies in Agriculture
Our social, economic, and political problems are traced to the centralized power of our unitary system of government. The chaos in public administration and governance is a result of a wide area to manage hence, government planners depend on statistical data analysis in making policies.
Thus, for example, our nauseating debates on the importation of agricultural commodities are difficult to address. The activities are hard to plan, monitor and manage because they are controlled by the old bullies in the sector: the big middlemen, hoarders, importers, smugglers, and price manipulators.
Our national economic policies are taken from macroeconomic data and formulas, they are short of local problem analysis that is needed in agricultural production, and determination of real consumption patterns in each province or region. Therefore, they cannot be an effective basis to design efficient program for storage and distribution system. This weakness is taken advantage of by the bullies in agriculture who can influence our policymakers through their powerful connections with sectoral organizations and political patrons.
This over-centralized situation destroys local initiatives for development. It leads to relatively slow growth, uneven distribution of wealth, chronic poverty, and unsolved unemployment. So, as a result, we are witnesses of social militancy, communal violence, and mass actions, drawn to the extreme cause of subversion, rebellion, terrorism that are conveniently blamed on poverty and social injustice.
All of this is result of wide and dispersed area of governance where the focus is on regulation and control of development rather democratic and participatory, global connectivity rather than local people’s needs. Area-based planning and strategic management could have been effectively carried out in a federal system of government. But without it, through enlightened governance we can still shift and change our development paradigm. If we can do it, we can train local government functionaries with new innovative knowledge and skill to strategically charter and be responsible for their own future and development.
Our farmers cannot fight their economic enemies on the national level. They are fortified with their political patrons. But we can help them engage in the local small arena, provinces, and regions, if local leaders are challenged to adopt area-based development policies. Each region of province will focus on planning and management of a particular segment of the agriculture industry, develop their distinctive competence, and learn how to trade with each other locally rather than join the global supply chain and international trading. Local internal market system can be organized. This needs a shift in development paradigm, conscious training and education in area-based strategic planning and management.
OUR ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS AND TRAINING CENTERS CAN DO THIS IF ONLY THEY WILL BE GIVEN GOVERNMENT SUPPORT AND INCENTIVES TO INCLUDE IN THEIR REGULATED CURRICULUM NEW, INNOVATIVE, AND NON-CONVENTIONAL PROGRAMS ESPECIALLY IN THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR.