First, the good news. According to Gov. Edgar Chatto, Bohol’s tourist arrivals in 2014 is higher than 2013.
The bad news, according to lawyer Lucas Nunag, Provincial Tourism Council chair, is that Bohol remains short of food supply. Whether we like it or not, the second will impact the first.
Indeed, this is worth reflecting upon.
Bohol has been considered an agricultural province. It was in fact touted as the rice granary of Central Visayas a few years back. But we all know that Bohol is not entirely self-sufficient in the sense that it needs to import rice from other places.
The danger is not so much that many rice fields have been converted to other uses. That is an alarming thought considering that while population, and rice consumers, is increasing, rice production is going down.
Instead of devoting more lands to rice by providing better irrigation, the opposite is happening as farmers are discouraged by limited opportunities to water sources that will sustain their paddies.
That is the bigger tragedy. There are many more idle lands that could have been put to good use but are not because farmers cannot risk production on unpredictable water supply.
If only smaller water-impounding dams were built instead of mega-dams, but that is a different story.
Apologists will point to the series of calamities that wreaked havoc on the province the last two years. They claim that the devastating 2013 earthquake and the typhoons destroyed rice fields and pulled down production levels.
There is truth to that, but it would be unfair to attribute everything to nature. Production was not at par with the potentials long before the calamities struck so nature’s fury should not get all the blame.
This brings us back to Nunag’s beef. Indeed, no one can dispute the fact that Bohol lacks food supply – both for the tourists as well as the domestics. It would be strange if there is one kind of supply for the first and another for the second.
And so the next question would be: what do we do about it?
There is no use crying over spilled milk, or logic in playing the blame game. The call of the hour is to set into motion a comprehensive plan that would give emphasis to agricultural production.
When it comes to public service, the choice is not between good and bad. The grade is between pass and fail. Based on actual production, we should get an F.
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