Poverty reduction through agriculture would allow development from tourism to trickle down to the grassroots and reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.
Provincial Board Member Tomas Abapo Jr. expressed this in his recent interview with the media where he underlines agriculture as the key to address poverty in the province.
Abapo noted that tourism, having received the main focus, has been successfully developed as the main economic driver of Bohol.
However, there is a need to improve agriculture to balance development.
Abapo shared that based on his general observation from his visits to the barangays, especially in remote areas, the score of poverty needs attention.
If he gets the vice-gubernatorial post this May election, Abapo said he intends to give focus on measures that would facilitate poverty reduction.
As he has observed now, many of the folks in the remote barangays need enough income to make both ends meet for the rest of their lives living in poverty.
Abapo believes that to address this, the government should give attention to agriculture as a means to address poverty.
He cited the adage, “Give a person a fish and he can eat for a day. But teach a person how to fish and he can eat for a lifetime”.
On this, Abapo said the people living in poverty needs interventions from the government to teach them the new ways in agriculture for a sustainable livelihood.
Through agriculture, a man will be assured that he will have food for the rest of his life, according to Abapo.
He also noted the wide gap between the populace living in poverty and those financially stable populace.
On this, he said his dream is to reduce this gap by introducing measures that would allow those living in poverty to improve their status in life and catch up, while those in better situations will be sustained.
“Kay naa man koy mga situations nga ang mga dato nisamot saka sa taas, ‘nya ang mga pobre steady lang sila kung di ba hinoon nipadung sa ubos (Because I have situations where the rich further goes up while the poor ones remain the same situation if not further dragged down,” according to Abapo.
As to those who left their farmlands for an employment in the construction sector in the city, Abapo attributed the trend to the lack of knowledge in farming.
Abapo explained that because of lack of knowledge in farming, the farmer’s industry did not work.
“If we can recall, the Vietnamese and Thais came to the Philippines to study agriculture, especially on rice farming. Ironically, after many years, we are the ones left behind and those from other countries in Asia who just came to study agriculture have higher harvest than Filipino farmers. This is one aspect that we should give focus. The other countries improved, while our situation here is steady,” according to Abapo.
In another aspect, Abapo noted that others left their farmlands because of lack of capital for farm inputs and so they failed to maximize their farmlands and they were not able to produce enough.
Therefore, these farmers seldom made good in their livelihood.
Abapo it is on this aspect that the government will step in, not in the form of dole-outs, but through programs that will teach the farmers how to maximize their farmlands so they would produce more.
He said farmers might no longer stay farming if they are continually given dole-outs, because they might tend to just wait for the dole-out assistance instead.
What the government should do is to teach them some ways to sustain farming.
Abapo said the government should teach them how.
“As of now, we are focusing much in tourism. For me, tourism is good and we should not deviate from it because it had also facilitated progress to the province through economic development. However, we focused on it and left the other aspects behind, or it might be that we have not forgotten but had not given weight to these other aspects. Ang nahitabo, ang mga naahan maoy moasenso through tourism and kung naa man galing modagayday to the poor, minus kaayo. The rich become richer, and the poor are steady in their current status, so nagkadako ang gap,” according to Abapo.
For the benefits of tourism to trickle down to the grassroots, agriculture should also be given attention to complement development.
Abapo said that if the government would only give weight on agriculture, aside from improving the quality of life of the poor, it will also help those in the upper layer of society who would be able to enjoy their produce.