Agriculture for money | Inquirer Business

Agriculture for money

“Agriculture not just for food but also for money.”

This is something Dr. Eugenio Alcala (0918-9797308; [email protected]) has been advocating, expounding on it in several forums.


We wrote about his philosophy in an article, “Growing Rich from Rubber,” which appeared in the Inquirer’s September 22 issue. Alcala consistently received favorable responses from those who attended the forums.

Commercial crops


Last October 18, Alcala spoke at the weekly forum of the Management Association of the Philippines-Agribusiness and Countryside Development Foundation Inc. (MAP-ABCD: Tel: 8171511 loc. 152 or 175).

Alcala told the agribusiness executives that a hectare of rubber could have an annual gross income of between P150,000 to P300,000 on its twentieth year. Because of this, the Department of Agriculture has been urged to promote the production of commercial crops (e.g., rubber, palm oil, coconut, cacao, coffee, etc.) along with traditional food crops (e.g., rice and corn).

On October 25, during the “Maunlad na Agrikultura” Radyo ng Bayan daily program that aired from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m., host Francis Cansino had Alcala as a guest.

During the program, Alcala debunked the myth that growing commercial crops like rubber could only be undertaken by multinationals or rich land owners. A small farmer can continue to plant corn and just allocate 10 to 15 percent of his land for commercial crops, like rubber.

Already, people are clamoring for AAA—Alcala and Alcala for Agriculture. The proponents want to combine the food production skills of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala with Eugenio Alcala’s profit schemes to increase the income of small farmers. The two Alcalas are not related, but they share the same vision.

Master plans

We should transform all this rhetoric into reality. We must achieve a vision through the proper implementation of master plans. But first, we must have a master plan, which is what the DA sorely lacks today.


Last October 12, Rolando Dy (6342819) launched a ground-breaking and must-read book: “The Business of Agriculture: from the Roots to the Fruits.” His co-authors are Marie Annette Galvez-Dacul, Ditas Macabasco, Senen Reyes and Florence Mojica Sevilla of the University of Asia and the Pacific.

Dy, an Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 (AF 2025) Commercial Crops coordinator and UA&P Center for Food and Agribusiness executive director, laments the fact that the DA has no master plan for any commercial crop. This is largely why the Philippines lags so far behind Indonesia and Malaysia.

On October 10, an Alyansa Agrikultura leader raised this issue with Agriculture Secretary Alcala during the National Agriculture and Fisheries Council (NAFC) meeting. It was noted that this recommendation for master plans had been made during the AF 2025 multisectoral conference in February. But no action has yet been taken. Alcala, showing his decisiveness, gave a directive that this should be addressed immediately.

Today, there are hardly any master plans at the DA. Noteworthy exceptions are those for sugar and fisheries. The last master plan for poultry was in 2002.

Without these master plans, how can we achieve the AF 2025 vision in this fast-changing and globally competitive environment?

Proper orientation

We hope the formulation of a master plan will soon get the attention it deserves.

One indication that this is sorely lacking is the 2012 DA budget, where less than P1 billion has been allocated for coconut development compared with the more than P30 billion for rice production, even though there are more poor coconut farmers than rice farmers.

Also because there is no credible coconut master plan, some were surprised at the potential coconut profit during PNoy’s last visit to the United States.

To achieve the AF 2025 vision, we must proceed immediately with developing the necessary master plans, especially for commercial crops, so that agriculture will finally be oriented for both food production and money.

(The author is chairman of Agriwatch, former secretary for presidential flagship programs and projects, and former undersecretary for Agriculture, and Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions,

e-mail [email protected] or telefax 8522112.)

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