As a result of the recent devastation caused by Typhoon Glenda in Southern Luzon, Philippines, consumers now face a shortage of the supply for basic goods such as chicken, vegetables, fruits. Still reeling from Super-Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, the strongest typhoon that has hit in a century or so, the country enjoys one of the highest rates of growth although it continues to experience insufficient rice harvest and plans to import rice from neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam.
For a country that yearly experiences havoc caused by tropical cyclones and other natural calamities, economic development must constantly take into account the effects of natural forces on the livelihood of people. Farmers may lose all the months of hard work through planting and caring for crops in a single day of strong cyclonic winds or flooding caused by incessant monsoon rains which can last for more than a week.
In spite of this reality, the government has not completely adapted to the cyclical changes in climatic patterns but instead continues to depend upon old economic policies and strategies that fail to address the fundamental problems.
Yet there are a few steps any government can implement to minimize the effects of natural calamities and to prepare the people and make them more capable of recovering in a shorter period. Let us look at these tips or principles:
1. Doing away with unsustainable farming techniques
Dependence on too much use of NPK (nitrogen-phosphate-potassium) fertilizer has led to leeching of the soil in many countries which followed the western agricultural paradigm after the last world war. More modern and scientific farming approaches which replenish all of the essential minerals in an organic manner will provide a more sustainable and healthier source of nutrition for humans.
It has been found that NPK fertilizer requires a higher investment than the more organic approach now more popularly referred to as nutritional or trophobiotic farming. The latter allows farmers and small gardeners to recover more readily from stresses experienced by plants during typhoons, floods and pest infestations.
2. Reviving the Green Revolution
Encouraging more people to go into container or backyard gardening and home livestock- raising will sustain a significant portion of their vegetable and meat supply domestically with even more healthful options compared to commercial alternatives. This will also do away with the high prices of such basic goods due to middle-men and transportation cost-add-ons.
Home-based gardens and small farms are also less prone to be affected by natural calamities as they can be housed in green houses or be planted in plastic bags and recylcled containers which can be raised during floods or moved to safer areas during storms.
3. Empowering the landless and the far-flung villages
People who have no land can still have the opportunity to establish cooperatives with others and lease or buy small farms which can compete with big farm corporations with their organically-grown produce. They can also establish links with like-minded business-people who need their products to address the problem of transporting goods.
With more and more families involved in such activities, the big farms will no longer monopolize the supply of basic goods. These people will also be able to patronize their own produce or barter their surplus produce with other goods they need with other producers and manufacturers.
4. Urban farmers can multiply through the use of idle lands and buildings
Detroit City, the world’s car-manufacturing center for many years, has recently become the ironic poster boy of bankruptcy as the economic meltdown of the US in recent years. Yet, its empty car factories are now slowly being converted into modern organic multi-levelled farms that will help transform the landscape and paradigm of economic activity worldwide. This is a parallel strategy which the Japanese undertook when a law was passed for all high-rise buildings in Tokyo to put up gardens on rooftops to minimize local as well as global warming.
5. Other modern planting techniques
Hydroponics, aquaponics and other indoor gardening and farming techniques can now be easily done by any individual or family at minimal costs. Governments must encourage more people to go into this not just to avoid the recurring shortage during calamities but also to augment the needs of restaurants, hotels and other businesses that have special or particular needs.
Political will and economic sufficiency is not merely an exclusive domain of leaders or governments but a duty of each citizen of any country. To a reasonable degree, each person can have a stake in that common objective of achieving and maintaining progress for all nations.