After watching the above Youtube video, I decided to follow up on a blog entry below, “Soybeans: part of solution to make Philippine education reforms work?” I came to the conclusion that the action that has the best chance of providing an almost immediate impact in the fight against malnutrition in the Philippines, first to give the young a chance at a meaningful life in this world and second, to give our education reforms a chance to work on the young, would be to create a Philippine Soybean Authority. The Philippine Soybean Authority will be empowered to mobilize the cultivation of soybeans among farmers–big and small–to produce the high-protein food products such as soy milk and others to fight malnutrition.
An Executive Order from the President or An Act of Congress will be needed to create The Philippine Soybean Authority. The first is the easier process of the two while the latter is usually a long, tedious process.
Under normal circumstances, the Philippine Soybean Authority should be under the Department of Agriculture. But to stay away from the usual bureaucracy and inefficiency of big government, I recommend placing The Philippine Soybean Authority under the University of the Philippines Los Baños, specifically under its Research & Extension Office for obvious reasons:
- to utilize the research personnel and facilities there,
- to take advantage of existing (and soon to be created as needed) extension facilities and personnel who shall be duly trained to promote, administer and manage The Philippine Soybean Authority in coordination with other government agencies, domestic and international interests, especially those in soybean research and research funding,
- to speed up research in, and delivery of, soybean technology to soybean farmers,
- to promote awareness and the integration of soybean food products in the Filipino diet to the extent that soybean becomes a Filipino staple food,
- to direct research in, and development of, other non-food soybean products, and
- to minimize the stifling effects of government corruption on existing and would-be soybean farmers by emplacing a system of built-in checks that puts a premium on stamping out graft and corruption in its ranks by involving senior and graduate students (trained in the soybean initiative) in the decision-making processes in the field, as well as, central levels. The students’ stint with the Philippine Soybean Authority over a predetermined period will either fulfill a part of or be their sole individual practicum course.
An alternative would be to explore the possibility of establishing a Philippine Soybean Authority similar to the International Rice Research Institute by forming some alliances with other international entities willing to support the soybean initiative. An International Soybean Research Institute could, for instance, expand its role to include research on many known and potential medicinal uses of soybeans.
At any rate, the Philippine Soybean Authority if created as a government unit should cater firstly to the small soybean farmer, and secondly to the industrial or commercial soybean farmer. Working together with existing financing, especially microfinancing institutions, and other agencies, the Philippine Soybean Authority should help the small farmer improve his family’s overall health and socio-economic well-being. In other words, the Philippine Soybean Authority shall primarily be in charge for the promotion and development of soybean as a cheap solution to improve the nutritional status of the undernourished and explore opportunities for poverty alleviation for our resource-poor people.
Let’s start with some pilot soybean farming and some soybean research (different soybean food products, varieties for various uses and growing conditions, etc.) at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, followed by regional pilots, and then unto a full-scale soybean farming and soybean product research and development program. Let’s incentivize the cultivation and production of soybeans by those who have huge agricultural landholdings which are not not even used for anything except for speculative purposes. Looks like the odds of succeeding and benefiting the country, especially the poor farmers, are excellent.
When the catastrophic effects of malnutrition among our poor, especially our childbearing women and our young children will have been ameliorated, then we could talk business about making educational reforms work. Otherwise, how can you even consider education reforms on a large segment of the population who are so ravaged by the dehumanizing effects of malnutrition and whose more immediate concern is trying to extract one more gulp of breath with decrepit lungs, perhaps too unfeeling to wonder how the next one–if there is–is going to be?