Don’t be a (s)cad

For a country blessed with natural resources, we have certainly bungled rice production — and even the whole ginisa (saute) mix!

September 9, 2022

The day we started importing galunggong (round scad) was the day the country should have reckoned with its vision.

The Philippines in 2018 began importing galunggong — long considered to be “the poor man’s fish” for its affordability — after the Department of Agriculture recommended the move, as supply was dwindling.

Lest we forget, our nation is made up of over a thousand islands — a green, green archipelago blessed in so many natural ways. We could have spurred the whole foods movement if we wanted to, but no.

Always, it seems, the problem is either a lack of foresight or a clear vision. This is usually followed by mismanagement or deplorable planning and coordination.

For a country blessed with natural resources, we have certainly bungled rice production — and even the whole ginisa (saute) mix!

Now our most popular fish is set to be brought in from other countries — an issue that has slipped through the mental grasp of many, including that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who told reporters he could not accept the fact that the country would be importing the fish soon.

That was in March this year when in a presidential interview he “emphasized the need to strengthen the (country’s) fishing industry.”

The President’s state visit to Indonesia yielded discussions on possible sharing of knowledge, as BBM says the latter has a strong fishing industry.

He brought home, a Palace official said, “around USD8.48 billion (P466.6 billion) worth of business deals from his three-day visit to Indonesia.”

Of this, “USD662 million in trade value for the supply of coal and fertilizer” was identified. With BBM as acting Agriculture chief, anything to do with the agriculture industry tends to make headlines.

Perhaps there is more to the special interest in the struggling industry here. What lies beneath is hinged on hope once more — that in these times of great changes planet-wide, someone will finally be doing it right.

If we are to look closer at the world situation, first-world countries have been securing territories with more fervor because it seems they know that they have to supply food for a population that keeps on increasing.

Before you know it, the air is a commodity and plant-based food will ultimately be necessary when meat and fish get scarce.

As pandemics and wars may ultimately peel off the blinders of greed, our leaders must take a more proactive and consistent approach to the food security issue.

A review of the past, a look at current realities, and a future plotted out with a strong plan are not even enough. We need to work as one nation, however, divided by waters our fishermen may no longer be able to fish from.

Geopolitics, food production, and climate change? They are part of the equation.

It is not just BBM who has a lot of work to do.


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