“Banaue Rice Terraces Philippines” | Photo by Boris G (Gаme of light) Flicker via Creative Commons
In Part I of this FOOD series, I discussed a Biden Doctrine that could reinvent the food on the tables of Filipino (and other) Christians during the Advent Season and the New Year celebrations. How? President Biden can reinvent the sending of American economic and military aid (E&MA) as investments for back-to-basics projects like food production. I cited the idle 4,000 hectares (8,800 acres) of fishponds in Sorsogon Province of the Philippines for a start. Making the E&MA as an investment will deter it’s siphoning into the pockets of corrupt foreign officials tasked with administering the U.S. aid. It will also enable the United States to become again the top trading partner of many countries receiving the E&MA. After all, Americans eat a lot; they eat 93 percent of imported seafood.
The proposed BAMOS (Bamboo, Abaca, Moringa, and Other Species) “Natural Wall” along the U.S.-Mexican border and the Pueblo Filipino project in Colima Province of Mexico can showcase the production of food in the three countries — as pilot projects.
“The proposed BAMOS (Bamboo, Abaca, Moringa, and Other Species) “Natural Wall” along the U.S.-Mexican border and the Pueblo Filipino project in Colima Province of Mexico can showcase the production of food in the three countries — as pilot projects.”
As I related in Part II of this FOOD series, the foremost food and nutrition expert of the Philippines during his government service, Dr. Conrado Pascual, Sr., proposed mushrooms, bean sprouts, and asparagus by individual families. The cash crops can provide income to the low-income families that buy (on an installment basis) affordable-housing units. Dr. Pascual also suggested that it would be easy to grow asparagus in small water tanks (hydroponically). But Dr. Pascual died before pushing the Filipino policy and decision-makers to adopt his national initiative proposals.
Taking Dr. Pascual’s food-growing suggestions to the next level, I wrote several Filipino-American publications suggestions starting in 2007 to push it further. These can be done by turning Parents-Teachers’ Associations (PTA) into cooperatives and organizing farmers to form their co-ops. This simple step would convert empty schoolyards and nearby government land into vegetable-and-cash crop plots.
Ample supplies of mushroom, asparagus, and other vegetables can sustain canning operations for food banks and even exports to countries of Filipino descent and the 12-million or more Overseas-Filipino workers (OFWs).
Win, Win Situation for FOOD-Growing and Downstream Projects
And I even displayed the photo of the Philippines’ Banaue Rice Terraces of Northern Luzon at the January 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the Las Vegas Convention Center. I explained why the display of rice terraces that are older than Christianity. A modern rice-terrace equipped with modern electronic gadgets (that can monitor the effective use of irrigation water and organic fertilizer-and-pesticide) can boost reforestation, the growing of cash crops, and permanent crops like cacao. A mini-farm with 100 bean-bearing cacao trees can produce an income of PH pesos 100,000 (equivalent to the U.S.$2,128) per year. This income from cacao beans alone can lift a Filipino family from poverty level to lower-middle class. Many of the poor Filipino farmers barely make the poverty-level income. Economic data show that “the Proportion of Poor Filipinos registered at 21.0 percent in the First Semester of 2018. In the first semester of 2018, a family of five needed no less than PH pesos 7,337, on average, to meet the family’s basic food needs for a month. This amount is the food threshold.”
Since the land area of the Philippines is just about the size of the Great State of Arizona, I also mentioned in my writings the need for “land reclamation” of idle public lands in mountainous areas for cash crops and fruit trees. A U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, Jeffrey A. Smith (who hails from Delaware), submitted in the 1960s his “land-reclamation” proposal to Sorsogon government officials. But nobody among the Filipino provincial leaders probably read it. I re-posted it on May 22, 2012, Mr. Smith’s recommendation on Facebook at this link
Perhaps President Biden may listen to a fellow citizen from Delaware in the person of Mr. Smith, who retired with distinction from the U.S. Peace Corps.
Reforestation will also enable farming co-ops. PTA co-ops can raise goats that will serve as mother nature’s weed controllers (if not weed killers), besides providing milk and dairy products to children, mostly elementary pupils. Goatskin will also sustain the downstream projects of a tannery and leather-craft industry.
“The proposed housing communities along the American-Mexican border can resettle the homeless citizens of both countries and refugees from other nations. They can have houses designed to have rooms for cultivation and packaging, including canning of mushrooms, asparagus, bamboo shoots, and other products from moringa and other species.”
Even in the United States, the Golden State and its neighbors use goats to control the growth of weeds, shrubs, and other vegetation that become fuel for forest fires. It will be easy to persuade non-disabled homeless individuals to become goat raisers, especially if they are allowed to cultivate cannabis for their personal use, which is now legal in California, Colorado, and soon in other states.
The proposed housing communities along the American-Mexican border can resettle the homeless citizens of both countries and refugees from other nations. They can have houses designed to have rooms for cultivation and packaging, including canning of mushrooms, asparagus, bamboo shoots, and other products from moringa and other species. The same can be done in the coming retirement condos and townhouses in the Pueblo Filipino communities, beginning in Manzanillo, Mexico. Plumbing can also include a unique line for rinse water (aka “gray water”) piped directly to irrigate mature trees, abaca plants, and bamboos.
Bamboos turned into plywood, wallboards, kitchen equipment, bike components, and other uses; abaca fiber into paper, cardboard, and other products like diapers for babies and Baby Boomers.
All of these proposals will end up cheaper to the taxpayers. An estimate of every homeless person costs all the government agencies — from federal to state, county, city, and towns, including law enforcement, first responders, and emergency-room care — at least $100,000 per year. And it costs more to take care of homeless veterans, some 80 percent of whom end up partially or permanently homeless in the first few years after leaving military service — per a USVA study in Southern CA.
“A President Biden can begin solving them permanently by laying down the framework — or as lawyers like to describe it, “laying down the predicate” before they move on to pre-trial and the trial.”
The ideas presented in this column and its series of articles are very much doable if only the new Administration will adopt the suggested “Biden Doctrine” for Mexico (and its border with the United States) and the Philippines’ pilot projects. Past presidencies have been long on propaganda and press releases, but the problems that are homelessness, illegal immigration, refugee needs, unemployment, underemployment, and theft of the E&MA continue. And continue to grow and eat up precious government resources. A President Biden can begin solving them permanently by laying down the framework — or as lawyers like to describe it, “laying down the predicate” before they move on to pre-trial and the trial.
Quo Vadis, President Biden, and your Cabinet? More of the same? Or now, more proactive steps to solve the above-stated socioeconomic problems? And not kick them down the road for the next generation of leaders and taxpayers to solve?