I just learned from SRI-Pilipinas trainor Aga Milagroso of Malolos, Bulacan that Malolos mayor Danilo Domingo has adopted a city policy which, in my opinion, sets an example that every mayor in the country should follow.
Mayor Domingo has declared that Malolos residents are authorized to plant food crops on any idle piece of land in Malolos, public or private.
Aga Milagroso, who conducts trainings on the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and organic planting methods in and out of his province of Bulacan, uses a piece of land that is not his own. His compadre, Ernesto de la Pena, an SRI-trainor like Aga, also works several hectares of land using SRI. The land is actually owned by Victory Liner, a Luzon-wide transportation company, which allowed Ernesto to work their land long before Mayor Domingo announced the measure.
Throughout the Philippines, thousands of hectares of land are idled and taken out of production by land speculators who buy agricultural land by the hectare, hoping to sell them several years later, when rapid urbanization eventually enables them to subdivide and sell these lands by the square meter. Often, these land speculators are also government officials, or cronies of government officials, who have advanced inside information where new highways, national roads or other government development projects would be built.
Mayor Domingo’s enlightened measure can help solve the apparent lack of land available to landless rural poor, and the declining rice output of Philippine farms. In 2008, the Philippines became, for the first time in its history, the world’s number one rice importer.
If we had more government officials like Mayor Domingo, this would never have happened.