Green Revolution in the Philippines

Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfer initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1970s, that increased agriculture production worldwide, particularly in the developing world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s. [1] The initiatives, led byNorman Borlaug, the “Father of the Green Revolution” credited with saving over a billion people from starvation, involved the development of high-yielding varieties of cereal grains, expansion of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of management techniques, distribution of hybridized seeds, syntheticfertilizers, and pesticides to farmers.

The term “Green Revolution” was first used in 1968 by former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) director William Gaud, who noted the spread of the new technologies: The Green Revolution in the 1960s up to the early part of the 1980s was one of the major factors that enabled the Philippines not only to be self-sufficient in rice but also to export some of it to neighboring countries in 1977-78. There is no reason why the Philippines, with its natural resources, trained manpower and favorable climate, cannot replicate the Green Revolution and finally attain rice self-sufficiency.

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The rice experts stressed the need for increased investment in agriculture. But investment here means not just financial investment but also investment of time, interest and attention. Macintosh said a better understanding of the cultural, social and economic factors would positively influence the adoption and adaptation of robust integrated technological advances for increased and technologically sustainable rice production. What is also needed is an investment in terms of political will and determination.

It is ironic that in the Philippines, where the International Rice Research Institute and the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture, one of the most prestigious colleges of agriculture in the region, are located, suffers from a recurring rice shortage. Students from Thailand, Vietnam and other Asian countries study in the Philippines and later improve the cultivation of rice in their countries, enabling them to export rice to the Philippines.

The trouble is that not enough attention is being given to agriculture in the Philippines, and not enough investment is being made in it. The rice industry draws the attention of the government only when a rice shortage or a rice price spike occurs. And even then, mostly populist, Band-aid solutions are adopted, and after the problem is temporarily solved, agriculture and rice are again forgotten. The Philippines is not lacking in the lessons of the Green Revolution.

It has been shown in the past that the country can be self-sufficient in rice, and can even export some to other countries. But for the country to be permanently self-sufficient in this all-important cereal, the government has to exercise political will. How Shultz and the WTO Destroyed the Philippines Green Revolution by Mike Billington The people of the Philippines have faced increasing rates of hunger for the past several years.

Now, as one of the world’s largest importers of rice, the country is facing famine, due to the global rice shortage, coupled with the hyperinflationary speculation in food on the commodity markets. A state of panic is setting in. Hundreds of rice distribution centers have been set up across Manila and other Philippine cities, where huge lines form before dawn to get the subsidized, imported rice at about half the market price—a program the government is now moving to shut down, unable to sustain the mounting subsidy costs.

The Philippines needs to import more than a million tons of rice each year to meet the minimum needs of its citizens, but due to the crisis, it is trying to acquire 2 million tons this year. As has been widely reported internationally, every Philippine tender for rice purchases over the past month has failed to obtain the needed quantities, and what they can purchase is at triple the price of 2007. The last tender, on May 5, called for 675,000 tons—they obtained not one grain, at any price.

And yet 25 years ago, the nation was self-sufficient in rice production, the result of a Green Revolution, carried out under the Presidency of Ferdinand Marcos, coordinated with the international Green Revolution implemented by the institutions set up by Franklin Roosevelt and his Vice President Henry Wallace (see below), under the direction of the famous Norman Borlaug. The collapse of that program in the Philippines can be blamed directly on then-U. S.

Secretary of State George Shultz and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, who ran the coup against the Marcos Administration between 1983 and 1986. That “regime change” by the neoconservatives Shultz and Wolfowitz, with the foolish Democrats in the U. S. Congress cheering them on, destroyed the Philippines nuclear program, its industrial aspirations, and its Green Revolution for food self-sufficiency—exactly as intended. An effort to revive the technologically vectored Green Revolution was attempted, with some success, in 2002-04.

A significant fight was carried out, together with other developing countries (including especially China and India), against the dictates of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which was demanding that developing nations give up protective tariffs on agricultural imports, and depend instead on the “international markets” and “globalization” to assure their food supply. But the WTO and its British imperial model remain in force, placing the entire world on a course for famine and social upheaval, with the Philippines high on the target list.

Still, the model of the Green Revolution under Marcos, and the similar effort in 2002-04, show that emergency measures can be successsful, if implemented by nations committed to the general welfare. Although the current Philippine government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo enjoys little popular support, in April, she committed the country to a crash progam to regain rice self-sufficiency within three years, and has recently gained the support of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI, which is international in scope, but happens to be located in the Philippines), which has pledged full cooperation in that effort.

Millions of lives are at stake. Masagana 99 vs. NSSM 200 In May 1973, the Philippine Green Revolution was launched by President Marcos and his wife Imelda, under the name of Masagana 99. Masagana means “bountiful” in the Tagalug language, while 99 represented the goal of producing 99 sacks of rice (almost 5 tons) per hectare, which was necessary to make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice production.

Working with the FDR-inspired IRRI in the Philippines, Marcos built irrigation systems, provided fertilizer, pesticides, and cheap agricultural credits which were 85% guaranteed by the government, as well as a network of agriculture extension stations across the country, while introducing high-yield varieties of seed. Mechanization became widespread, replacing carabaos (water buffaloes). He also passed laws forbidding rice land from being converted to any other uses (as China has recently also done). By 1975, more than 500,000 farmers were participating in the program.

Fertilizer usage doubled, irrigation use tripled to one-half of the arable land, and 81% of the rice planted was so-called “miracle rice”—up from zero in the 1960s. Productivity doubled, and by 1977, the Philippines was self-sufficient in rice for the first time in its modern history. Similar government support made the country self-sufficient in corn, and one of the world’s leading coconut oil producers. But in the late 1970s, the British counterattack against such American-sponsored development dramatically escalated.

In 1974, Henry Kissinger, who essentially ran the Nixon Administration, issued National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200), titled “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interests. “[1] The report, adopted as official U. S. policy, argued that population growth in certain less-developed countries was a threat to U. S. security, because a growing population would more rapidly use up the resources which were needed in the advanced-sector nations. NSSM 200 proposed limiting food production by force: “Mandatory programs may be needed and we should be considering these possibilities now,” the document said.

It added: “Since population growth is a major determinant of increases in food demand, allocation of scarce PL 480 resources [the U. S. food aid program] should take account of what steps a country is taking in population control as well as food production. In these sensitive relations, however, it is important in style as well as substance to avoid the appearance of coercion. ” Kissinger never shied from acknowledging his allegience to the British over the American system, famously telling London’s Chatham House in 1982 that he favored Winston Churchill’s colonial policy over Franklin Roosevelt’s intent to end colonialism after World War II. 2] The Philippines was one of the 13 “key countries” targetted by Kissinger’s genocidal NSSM 200 policy.

These colonial policies continue today. Marcos had also implemented policies for energy independence, launching oil exploration which revealed significant oil resources offshore, extensive hydropower and geothermal development, and full support for the ongoing 620 MW nuclear project at Bataan. The Third World debt crisis of the late 1970s and early 1980s, brought on by the manipulated leap in oil prices by the Anglo-Dutch cartels, together with skyrocketting interest rates imposed by the U. S. Federal Reserve under Paul Volcker, sent the Philippines into a financial crisis, forcing Marcos to sign deals with the World Bank and the IMF to meet debt payments. The “conditionalities” of these agreements forced the Philippines to lift their protective tariffs on food and other goods by one-third, and lift import restrictions on thousands of items. The Masagana 99 Green Revolution was undermined under the cover of the global financial crisis. In the early 1980s, fertilizer usage fell by 15%, acreage in rice fell by 2. 4% annually, irrigation projects were abandoned, and the credit flow to farmers collapsed.

Marcos was deposed in 1986 under the direction of Shultz and his agents in the Philippines. Immediately, the nuclear facility, which was ready to turn on, was scrapped, as was the Green Revolution. In its place was “globalization,” which replaced a production orientation with dependence upon trade for food supplies. The protective tariffs were further removed, as federal support for infrastructure was slashed. Agricultural production shifted to export crops, while importing cheap rice from abroad for national consumption. Production, by 1996, had fallen to 1960s levels in many parts of the country.

The Philippines has never recovered from the U. S. “regime change” against President Marcos. Masagana 99 was a program in the Philippines under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos that promoted the planting of Green Revolution varieties of rice developed by the International Rice Research Institute. It began in 1973. [1] “Masagana 99 is a Filipino word for bountiful and 99 was the average production target of 99 cavans [4,900 kilos] per hectare per season for irrigated rice. “[2] The rice varieties used in the program were capable of high yields when grown with heavy use of fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, and irrigation. The program… had four elements: Access to improved technology, credit, price support for rice and provision of low-cost fertilizer. “[3]

“For a brief spell during Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship, the Philippines became self-sufficient in rice, reversing a trend of buying overseas to fill in shortages in the staple since colonial times. “The country exported rice from 1977 to 1978 following the success of Marcos’ “Masagana 99” program–a blueprint to harvest a “bountiful” 99 cavans of rice (4,900 kilos)–per hectare. [4] “Masagana 99 mobilized 6,000 agricultural technicians, all agricultural credit institutions in the Philippines, P2 billion in funds, and 530,000 irrigated rice farmers. Although Masagana 99 made the country self-sufficient in rice during the initial years, it failed to raise real farm income because the increase in total supply intensified the cost-price squeeze phenomenon that removed the intended profits in rice farming. “[5] A successor program to Masagana 99 is the FIELDS Program, which stands for “fertilizers, infrastructure and irrigation, education and extension work, loans, drying and postharvest facilities, and seeds. “

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