ON AGRARIAN QUESTION
of the most interesting debates within the left movement re�volves around
the question: is the Phil�ippines capitalist or semi-feudal? It is a
theoretical issue that has serious impli�cations on left
�strategizing� and organ�izing.
most of those directly involved in the debates have not come up with a
clear definition of the terms they are using, especially the term
�feudal� or �semi-feudal.� While the classic meaning of a
�capitalist mode of production� appears acceptable to eve�ryone, there
is some vagueness in the way some writers approach the so-called
�feudal� or �semi-feudal mode of pro�duction.� This leads some to
a false type of reductionism, for instance, the suppo�sition that if a
mode of production is not capitalist enough, then it must be �feu�dal�
�feudal.� Or the belief that if the country is
predominantly agrarian, then it must be �feudal� or �semi-feu�dal�
as if the agrarian character of an economy automatically makes it �feu�dal�
RPMP asserts that the Philippines today is predominantly capitalist even if
the overall capitalist development of the country is highly uneven and
relatively weak in compari�son to the experience of other countries. To
appreciate this; it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the terms
�feu�dal� mid �capitalist,� the development of imperialism as the
monopoly stage of capitalism and the capitalist transforma�tion of the
Philippines under the aegis of foreign monopoly capital.
and Capitalism Defined
refers to a socio-economic formation characterized by serfdom or
landlord-vassal relation�ship. This system came into being after the
disintegration of the tribal and slave owning societies. Feudalism became
the dominant system in Europe during the Middle Ages.
word feudal is derived from the English and French fief, which is
taken from the German fehu-od, mean�ing �property in cattle�
and later, �prop-city in land.� The system stresses the importance of
land ownership and the rights and privileges associated with such
ownership. There are two main classes in a feudal society: the lords and
the serfs or peasants. The ruling feudal class includes the nobility and
the higher clergy, the latter emerging as the biggest feudal lords in some
feudal system is marked by a natural or subsistence economy and a stagnant,
low level of technology. Specific forms of feudal exploitation vary.
Generally, however, the feudal landowner�s main privilege is not to work
but simply to enjoy the fruits of the land that is made productive by the
labor of the serfs or peasants. The earlier form of feudal exploitation bad
the serf tilling the land of the lord for free in exchange for the right to
cultivate a small plot of land for the serf�s own use. The serf could be
working five days a week on the lord�s land, and the rest of the week on
his own plot. The free labor service, or corvee as it is called in some
parts of Europe, came to be known as ground rent. Later, this was
transformed into ground rent in kind and later still, under the impact of
an expanding money econ�omy, ground rent in cash. These two forms of
ground rent developed during the advent of capitalism in Europe and made it
unnecessary to divide the lord�s land into one part for the master and
the other for the serfs. In many cases, ex�ploitation was (and still is in
some coun�tries) intensified by the landlord by merely raising the ground
rent peasants had to meet.
forms of social existence for labor power was essentially unfree. Feudal
rule was based on coercion tied to land and customs favoring the feudal
lords. Economic surplus was pumped out under these conditions but of
course, feudalism is different from slavery.
the relationship between the lord and the serfs has gener�ally been
characterized as paternalistic. In addition to the free labor rendered by
the serf in cultivating the lord�s land, he and the members of his family
are bound to render myriad forms of services to the lord�s family or
household. In the expe�rience of other countries, serfs some�times even
served as soldiers for the feudal warlord.
on the private ownership of the means of production and the exploitation of
wage labor. There are two main classes under capitalism: the capitalist
class or the bourgeoisie who own the means of production, and the wage
laborers or prole�tariat who, having no means of produc�tion of their
own, are forced to sell their labor power in order to live. Compared to
feudalism, capitalism is more pro�gressive, particularly during the 16th
up to the 19th centuries when the rising bourgeoisie was leading the
struggle against the ruling feudal class, and in the sense that it expands
the productive capacity of society through industriali�zation and the
harnessing of the scien�tific-technical revolution.
basic law of capitalism is the extraction of surplus value through the
intensification of the exploitation of the workers who are forced to
produce new wealth or value way above the real value of the wages they get
for their labor. Thus, through the law of surplus value, �seed� capital
becomes bigger until in the course of competition, it either gets ruined or
becomes monopoly capital. The extraction of the new wealth or value to be
added to the original capital, however, can only be fully real�ized
through the market where the commodities produced by the workers are
exchanged. Hence, capitalist ex�ploitation presupposes production for the
capitalism traces its beginnings to simple commodity production, wherein
the owners of the means of production are also the work�ers. This set-up
is non-exploitative as regards production relations and applies to artisans
and peasants who till their own land. It is only when the owners of the
means of production start hiring people to work for them that exploita�tion
speaking, many of the small peasants owner-cultivators and lessees in the
Philippines who produce for the market are small commodity producers. They
are small producers not only in terms of the �smallness� of the lands
they own or are able to till (below
hectares), but also in the sense that they are unable to produce enough sur�plus
that would enable them to expand production through acquisition of more
lands, hiring of more workers, or invest�ment in other undertakings. The
pres�ence of this sizeable mass of small commodity producers in the
country�side indicates the backward and highly uneven development of
capitalism in agriculture.
Work on the Development of Capitalism
above definitions of feu�dalism and capitalism are quite clear enough.
However, what causes confu�sion to a lot of left analysts is the fact that
a socio-economic formation in a given society may feature a number of modes
of production interacting and intermesh�ing with one another. But the more
dynamic is found to dominate, even replace, the others. This is especially
true in the case of industrially backward and highly agrarian countries
where various forms of pre-capitalist modes of production or their
survivals prevail. Life is not a straight line, and certainly this is not
the case in the development of a socio-economic formation. Oftentimes, the
transition from one mode of produc�tion to another, e.g., from feudalism
to capitalism, is a complicated and uneven process and defies neat and
clear-cut delineations. The classic development of capitalism from the womb
of feudal�ism as experienced by England and other European countries
cannot be replicated in its primeval form in other countries of the
is in this context that the methodology and works of V. I. Lenin find great
relevance. Lenin emphasized the need for concrete analysis of con�crete
reality, not imagining situations to fit neat theoretical frameworks. Using
this approach and the methods of dialec�tics, Lenin came up with two
seminal theoretical works that helped guide the Russian Social Democratic
Labor Party in the formulation of its program and enlighten the world
revolutionary forces on the changing nature of capitalism as a national and
of These works is The Development of Capitalism in Rus�sia, Lenin
gathered the latest economic data to show that Russia, despite its
overwhelm�ingly agrarian character and limited number of industries
compared to other European countries, was well on the road to capitalist
development. To prove his point, he concentrated on analyzing the
capitalist transformation of corvee or feudal agriculture of Tsarist
Russia as a result of the rapid and general com�mercialization of
agriculture, while also paying attention to the essential role historically
played by communal lands. He wrote:
growth of commercial agriculture creates a home market for capitalism.
Firstly, the specialization of agriculture gives rise to exchange between
the various agri�cultural areas, between the various agricultural
undertakings, and be�tween the various agricultural prod�ucts. Secondly,
the further agricul�ture is drawn into the sphere de�mand by the rural
population for those products of manufacturing industry that serve for
personal consumption; and thirdly, the more rapid is the growth of the
demand for rural entrepreneurs is able, with the old-fashioned
�peasant� imple�ments, buildings, etc., etc., to en�gage in the new,
commercial agri�culture. Fourthly and lastly, a de�mand is created for
labour power, since the formation of a small rural bourgeoisie and the
change�over by the landowners to capitalist farming presuppose the
formation of a body of regular agricultural laborers and day laborers...
enormously extends and intensifies among the agricul�tural population the
contradictions without which his mode of produc�tion cannot
exist...Capitalism for the first time broke with the system of social
estates in land tenure by converting the land farmer�s prod�uct was put
on sale and began to be subject to social reckoning�first in the local,
then in the national, and finally in the international market and in this
way the former isolation of the uncouth farmer from the rest of the world
was completely bro�ken. The farmer was compelled willy-nilly, on pain of
ruin, to take account of the sum-total of social relations both in his own
country and in other countries, now linked together by the world market...
its very nature, capitalism in agriculture(as an industry) can�not develop
evenly: in one place(in one�s aspect of agriculture, in an-other place
another aspect, etc. In one case it transforms the technique of some, and
in other cases of other agricultural operations, divorcing them from
patriarchal peasant econ�omy or from the patriarchal labour service. Since
the whole of this process is guided by market require�ments that are
capricious and not always known to the producer, capitalist agriculture, in
each sepa�rate instance (often in each separate area, sometimes even in
each sepa�rate country), becomes more one-sided and lopsided than that
which preceded it, but, taken as a whole, becomes immeasurably more many�
sided and rational than patriarchal agriculture. The emergence of sepa�rate
types of commercial agricul�ture renders possible and inevitable
capitalist crises in agriculture and cases of capitalist overproduction,
but these crises (like all capitalist
crises) give a still more powerful impetus to the development of
world production and of world production and of the socialization of labour.
capitalism appeared, the production of agricultural pro�duce was always
carried on in an unchanging, wretchedly small way�both when the peasant
worked for �community character� of land tenure was capable of de�stroying
this tremendously scattered production... Capitalism destroys local
seclusion and insularity, and replaces the minute medieval divi�sions
the fact that agricul�ture has been transformed from the
privileged occupation of the top es�tate or the duty of the bottom
estate into an ordinary commercial and industrial occupation; that the prod�uct
of the cultivator�s labour has become subject to social reckoning on the
market, that routine, uniform agriculture is being converted into
technically transformed and diverse forms of commercial farming; that the
seclusion and scattered nature of the small farmers is breaking down; that
the diverse forms of bondage and personal dependence are being replaced by
impersonal transactions in the purchase and sale of labour power, these are
all links in a single process... (pp. 311-317)
a great extent, Lenin�s de�scription of Russian agriculture as it was
undergoing capitalist transformation can be applied to Philippine
agriculture during the last two decades when the government vigorously
pursued the Green Revolution program for the food sector side by side with
the promotion of agribusiness!
any rate, the lengthy quota�tion above, taken from the voluminous work
(686 pages) of Lenin, is meant to show how Lenin used both the Marxist
theory of capitalism and the methods of dialectics in making a concrete
analysis of the evolving capitalism in Russia. Despite the strong survivals
of feudal�ism and the multiplicity of production arrangements emerging as
a result of the commercialization of Russian agricul�ture, Lenin showed
with great clarity that capitalism had become the deter�mining and leading
factor in the Russian economy, be it in agriculture or in indus�try. This
great analytical work of Lenin firmed up the theoretical and organiza�tional
foundation of the Bolshevik party, which was dedicated to a proletarian-led
revolution based on the strategic alli�ance of the working class and the
of Philippine Capitalist Development
and Eneven Capitalism
capitalism in the Philippines has transformed the contour of
Philippine social and political life.
There is an uneveness and maldevelopment of Philippine capitalism.
Philippine society exhibits
many of the most advanced social features cheek-by-jowl with many of the
most backward. From the tops of the huge skyscrapers of Makati, one can see
villages that have not yet experienced an agricultural revolution. The
modern proletarian, working in the sterile atmosphere of the chip
manufacturing plant, has a brother who is labouring in the fields. She uses
the highest technology known to humanity; he uses the methods and tools
that have endured for thousands of years. But the societies are in a
constant social turmoil. Modern metropolies are sucking peasant labour in
from the countryside and proletarianising it at an astonishing rate. The
social and political structures of such societies are necessarily under
immense pressures. The beliefs and habits of past times do not disappear
overnight, but at the same time new conditions of life produce the germs of
new ideas and new horizons, as Marx and Engels famously observed in the
Communist Manifesto. This process of social transformation has been the
immediate life experience of millions of people in the Philippines. Born
into a world of agriculture, they live in a world of industry. Born in
villages, they live in cities. Born to obey the old ways, they struggle in
a confrontation with the new.
slow, uneven and maldeveloped state of capitalism in the country is the
result of domination of big foreign monopoly capitalists and their
extraction of superprofits from the country. The manufacturing sector is
limited, with the food processing taking up the great bulk of manufactured
products. More importantly, there are no basic Filipino industries to speak
of, but only extractive industries. This sad state of the economy makes the
Philippines all the more vulnerable to the recurring world and Asian
crisis, with the process of maldevelopment being worsened
by the neo-imperialist onslaughts of globalization.
unevenness and maldevelopment can be seen in the various sectors of Philippine economy.
still maintains a major role in the country�s economy. A significant
number of Filipinos live and work in the rural areas. In 1994, almost half
of the working population -- 45 percent -- and 45.1 percent of all employed
in the household earned the major bulk of their incomes directly through
the last three decades, faster and wider in-roads of capitalist development
is noticeable in agricultural production. This could be seen in the agribusiness or cash crop
production. With this, many
changes have been brought about in the class forces and relations in the
has also intensified the crisis in agriculture especially in the 80s
manifested by the downward trend in prices of traditional exports at the
end of the decade resulting in the 3 percent low rate of growth during the
period. The crisis began to be
felt in the 70s when agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP) plunged from
6.1 in 1970 to 1.5 percent in 1980 then recorded as the lowest rate of
growth in Southeast Asia. In 1984, agriculture contributed to about 27
percent of the country�s total GDP. Ten years thereafter, this
contribution declined to 22 percent.
production per capita likewise decreased from 1.6 percent in the 80s to a
negative 1.4 percent in 1992 while agricultural gross value dipped to a
negative 3.2 percent in 1992 from 4.9 percent in the 80s.
viewed in terms of �agribusiness� or agriculture inclusive of related
manufacturing activities, the importance of the agricultural sector
to the overall economy may be overwhelming (Putzel 1994). In 1988,
the direct contribution of agribusiness to the GDP amounted to 47 percent.
Considering other related agricultural activities such as wholesale and
retail and transport agribusiness contribution to the GDP may reach 50
But the economy as a whole failed to
provide sufficient employment outside of agriculture. In 1990, agriculture
employed an additional 140,662 workers. However,
employment dipped to 19.3 percent due to decreasing opportunities,.
By 1991, the sector
accounted for only 113,481 workers employed in 12.5 million
hectares of agricultural lands.
agricultural produce comprise a variety of crops such as food crops (rice,
corn, tubers), root crops, spices, traditional export crops (such as sugar,
coconut, bananas and tobacco), non-traditional export crops (such as
asparagus and mango), fruits
and nuts, vegetables and fibers.
crop production sector represents 43 percent of all sectors and
establishments involved in
agriculture. In 1991, this sector gained
the largest share of agricultural revenue amounting to PHP 9.85 billion representing 50.6 percent
of total agricultural revenue (NCSO).
revenue earned by the agricultural sector reached PHP 19.45 billion in
1991, a slight increase of 1.4 percent from the previous year�s PHP 19.17
billion. Livestock production and the forestry sectors placed 2nd and third
earning production values
of PHP 7.24 and PHP 1.92 billion respectively (Figure 1).
Distribution of Revenue
to the NCSO, the crops production sector employs 86,497 workers or 79.8
percent of the total employed in the agricultural sector in 1991.
This include working owners, unpaid workers, managers, supervisors,
executives, permanent and seasonal and forestry workers.
crops � rice, corn, coconut and sugar � are of major significance to
the country�s agriculture. These
crops alone utilize some 9.9 million hectares or 79 percent of the total
land devoted to agriculture.
first factor which determined the path of agrarian transformation in the
Philippines was the experiences of Spanish and later American Colonization.
Spanish colonization implanted the concentration of land ownership
in two forms: the encomienda system of agriculture dominated by the
clerical orders and variety of
labor processes of exploitation coexisted based on serf, debt servitude and
slave based form of surplus labor extraction. This variety was later
replaced by the hacienda system at the end of the 18th century
that more fully resembled European serfdom. The determining motive was to
support the needs of the new settlement
established by the conquistadors.
factor that influence the direction of agrarian transformation was the
expansion of trade. It boosted further agricultural specialization at the
beginning of the 19th century. The foreign market made abaca
growing and sugar planting highly profitable. Foreigners, mostly British
and American, were allowed to engage in agriculture and manufacturing. The
large-scale production of �cash� crops like sugar, indigo, coffee,
copra, hemp and tobacco became a permanent feature in Philippine
agriculture. But the production of cash crops required large areas and big
numbers of workers. The land was not parceled out to share croppers and
instead was tilled by wage laborer (sacadas). The sacadas often had to be
coerced into rendering labor. Landowners
developed patron-client relations to retain and conserved this work force,
as wage levels were often below subsistence level. This was not yet,
however, �free� wage, as patron-client relations continued.
coming of the American did not alter the concentration of land ownership
nor alter the basic structure of agrarian relations. The free trade policy
continued land accumulation process. Free trade relations have encouraged big land owners to
invest heavily in the production of sugar, copra, and hemp for export to
the United States. The free exchange of goods without tariff from 1909 to
1934 structured the colonial economy into a pattern of dependence and
American investments in the Philippines, on the other hand, were
concentrated in the extractive industries like mining and logging. American
companies also invested in agricultural export crops such as pineapples.
The establishment of large-scale commercial plantations and petty commodity
production in Mindanao occurred after the consolidation of American
capitalist transition in Philippine agriculture showed the monopolization
of land by a few families. Few families owned huge tract of land, sugar
commercial agricultural estates. There was also great deal of
intermeshing with feudal and pre-capitalist forms of agriculture. The
majority of those who sold their labor power and worked on the land
remained landless and poor.
existing of land concentration accounts for the popularity of
�semi-feudal� thesis in the Philippines. However, the size of
concentrations is not evidence of feudalism itself. Rather the large land
holdings reflect the basis upon which capitalist agricultural developed on
older class formation. In spite of huge land holdings and landlordism a
general process of capitalist expansion occurred, defined as the erosion of
the natural economy, growth of social division of labor, accumulation of
merchant and usurer capital, and increasing social differentiation into
wage laborer, petty commodity producers and capitalist farmers.
unevenness of capitalist transition is more evident in the race and corn
production. We can see remnants of sharecropping and land rent as key forms
of surplus labor appropriation. Indeed, these forms intensified despite
successive land reform measure especially in the rice and corn areas.
Landowners continue to appropriate surplus labor through share
cropping and later leasehold tenancy. Yet, there was also significant
development of owner cultivators and large capitalist farms in rice and
corn areas in Luzon. The class composition reveals a significant layer of
the population dependent on wage labor and the dominant role played by the
merchant and finance capital in the production process.
the study done by the Visayas Group reveals the extend of capitalist
penetration in the rice and corn areas which resulted to a combined and
uneven development. To quote extensively from the research:
and corn are food staples. Three fourths of the 70 million Filipinos eat
rice, and nearly a quarter, mostly in the Visayas and some parts of
Mindanao are basically corn eaters. There
were no shifts in uses of these grains until the 90s when corn consumption
gradually shifted from human
food to animal feed and corn production gradually shifted from white corn
to yellow corn. By 1992, about
70 percent of corn produced in the country is consumed by the livestock
industry, following the shift from
white corn to yellow corn.
modern rice varieties were introduced in 1966, average yield per hectare
was 1.3 MT and annual
production on 3.1 million hectares of riceland amounted to 4.1 MT. Since
then, production has doubled and rice hectarage increased by about 7
percent to 3.6 million in
1994. Subsequently, production
increased to 10.5 million tons. Thus,
in the same year, rice
production posted a 5 percent real GVA
representing a contribution of 22.32 percent to agriculture�s
total real GVA.
Corn, on the other hand,
is planted in 3 million hectares of land representing half of the
total area planted to grains. In
1994, corn output was 4.5 million metric tons.
From the 70s through the 90s, corn showed most promise among the
country�s four major crops (namely, rice, corn, sugar and coconut), in
terms of GVA growth. During
the period, corn GVA surpassed that of rice (3.3 percent).
In terms of hectarage, corn areas surpassed that of rice since the
mid 80s although the trend was reversed in 1991.
By 1994, corn GVA
declined to 1.4 percent of the real GDP, 12 percent lower than its share in
1984. On the whole, this
amounted to a 6.3 percent contribution to total agriculture GVA.
production is concentrated in Mindanao, in the North, South, Central and
ARMM regions contributing a total of 68.4 percent to national production
(BAS, 1995). The skew would have been favorable to the Mindanao
economy were it not for the fact that end-use is concentrated in the
National Capital Region. Majority of feed millers and commercial poultry
and livestock raisers operate in the NCR with an aggregate production
capacity of 525 metric tons (BAI, Animal Feeds and Control Division).
Unlike corn, rice production is scattered although certain areas in the
major islands of the country are described
as rice granaries.
of basic food crops is costly, labor intensive, and highly dependent on
chemical farm inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides.
At present, attaining the national standard per hectare yield of 3
tons of palay over rain-fed areas requires an estimated input cost of about
PHP 9,145.00 per hectare (Tables 5). This cost represents
a significant 46.04 percent of the overall average production cost of about
of production for rice, however, vary
according to location and
purpose. In a study conducted
in Sultan Kudarat, average production cost for one hectare with an average
yield of 3 tons would require PHP 16,845.00.
This is significantly higher than costs incurred in San Joaquin in
the Visayas (PHP 9,655) for the same size of land.
Production Cost, %age of Major Budget Items in Rice Production
a Hectare of Land in a Single Cropping (San Joaquin, Sultan Kudarat
of Major Budget Line to Cost of Production
Rental (per 8 Hours)
Threshing (10% of Yield)
Philippine corn industry is a high-cost producer. A 1991 study by
Setboonsang and Rosegrant reveals that production and marketing costs per
metric ton in the country was higher than in Thailand.
Average costs (in US Dollars) were 132.81 and 111.86 respectively.
The most productive provinces like South Cotabato and Isabela even
posted higher costs than the national average. In Isabela, production cost
per metric tons was 115.25 and marketing 56.64 (1989) or an aggregate cost
of 171.89 US Dollars per
metric ton. In South Cotabato,
the aggregate cost was at an average of 153.72 US dollars per metric ton.
Production and Marketing Cost Differentials,
and Thailand, 1989
US$ per metric ton, 1989 official exchange rate)
Difference at averages
difference with South Cotabato
case studies on corn production conducted by MODE Inc. in South Cotabato
and Bukidnon, it was found out that interest rates for production loans ran
as high as 10 to 15 percent a month with a maturity of three months
payable at the end of the cropping season.
Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac, money
lenders charge 5 percent a
month over a period of six
months at discounted interest rates. Some
even charge as high as a cavan of palay for every PHP 1,000 loan payable
during the harvest season. In Antique,
this system is called aleli and
farmer-borrowers pay two cavans per PHP 1,000.
financial landscape in rice and corn areas is dominated by the informal
credit markets. Formal credit assistance to farmers is scarce, especially
among individual farmers. Formal financing institutions such as rural banks
and commercial banks usually do not extend production loans due to high
risks of delinquency or defaults. Besides,
rice and corn farmers are considered less bankable because of the
smallness of their assets. From
1981 to 1990, the corn sector received only between 0.79-1.60 percent of
total credit assistance granted to agriculture.
to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the share of corn loans to total
agricultural loans was below one percent from 1981 to 1986.
This share rose to two percentage points from 1987 to 1989 but slid
down to 1.60 percent by 1990.
production costs are traceable to high interest rates, high cost of farm
inputs and exorbitant land rent. Very
significant portions of farmers� incomes are spent
on imported chemical inputs the prices of
which keep on increasing. These
costs represent foregone income on the part of farmers as well as surplus
transfused to inputs dealers and chemical and fertilizer companies.
From 1973 to 1974, prices of petroleum-based fertilizer alone
quadrupled from $4.00 to $17.00 a bag significantly eroding farm incomes.
incomes in rice production vary according to land size, the amount of
agricultural inputs applied and tenurial arrangement.
In Sta. Ignacia, a predominantly rice farming community in Tarlac, 58.31 percent of the gross income from a hectare of land
of small owner-cultivators represents the cost of production. Of the
amount, 21.65 percent or PHP
6,375.00 is spent on hired labor, 16.73 percent (PHP 2,872.00) for
equipment rentals and 16.31 percent (PHP
2,800.00) for certified seeds.
average gross income on a hectare of rain-fed land is PHP 29,440.00.
Considering all the
costs incurred in the production process, an owner-cultivator realizes a
net income of about PHP12,273.00.
This represents the household disposable income for six (6) months
until the next cropping season. This
would mean that a family of six (6) will have to subsist on a PHP 68.18
daily budget. This income is further eroded if the farmer is still
tied with amortization payments for
on the other hand, earn PHP29,204.75 from cultivation of a
hectare of land in a single cropping period.
Unlike owner-cultivators, they shoulder
added cost such as for land
rent, which is legally set at 25 percent of the net income or
higher depending on the
leaseholders� incomes vary with a large portion representing foregone
income due to exorbitant interests on loans.
On the average, a leaseholder earns PHP 9,204.75 from a hectare of
land, which translates to a monthly income of PHP1,534.13 or a measly PHP
51.14 per day. With production
burdened by increasing costs of production and land rent, a leaseholder is
compelled to employ more capital and expand land size in order to realize
sufficient returns from his productive endeavors.
a study conducted by MODE, average costs for
all types of corn amounted to PHP 4,422 per hectare against gross
returns of PHP 5,536. Yellow
corn gave higher gross returns at PHP 7,087 per hectare.
However, total production costs are also higher at PHP 1,413 per
hectare against PHP 963 for white corn farmers.
production costs for yellow corn HYVs race up against returns.
High production and marketing costs are disadvantages that reinforce
each other and translate into high prices. The price of Philippine yellow
corn is 46 percent higher than
that of Thailand�s.
production of rice and corn is
costly and capital intensive. Bad agricultural practices and high doses of
chemical inputs contribute to soil erosion and decrease in fertility,
long term economic viability of HYVs. The ensuing environmental
damage translates into huge social costs.
above costs will become more apparent and all the more serious as the
government�s Medium Term Agricultural Development Program transform
Philippine agriculture. In the program, 3.1 million hectares of rice and corn
lands will be converted for the production of more globally competitive
non-food crops. And by the
year 2025, the food security of 115 million Filipinos will hang in the
balance and become dependent on global markets impacting on the production
of rice and corn in a drastically reduced area.
Structure for Rice
Luzon, the market for rice is a multi-tiered system (Figure 2).
From the farm, rice passes through layers of middlemen/traders
before it reaches the consumers. Similar studies in rice farming communities in the
Visayas and Mindanao also reveal the same pattern, the only difference
being the layers of middlemen in the whole marketing process.
Rice Marketing Structure
Marketing is largely an affair of the private sector dominated by huge
traders and millers organized as cartels in many areas.
Their intricate organization and control of capital enable influence
and control over the processes that runs the gamut from production to
intervention in the rice industry is hinged on the goals of maintaining a
stable supply of food and low prices at the same time affording reasonable
returns to rice production. These
goals underscore the dual nature of rice as a political and economic
commodity. The NFAs attempt at supplanting the layers of middlemen in the
system only prove as effective as the volume of procurements. In the
province of Antique, the NFA is able to influence only 4 percent of the
rice market. In 1995,
it stood inutile during the provincial rice shortage at a time when
the province was enjoying a huge surplus in production.
assessment made by the Asian Development Bank in 1982 revealed that most
domestic marketing is handled by private traders.
NFA absorbs only 10 percent of the sales/procurements at the
wholesale level and 1 percent at its 500 retail outlets, as against 90 and
99 percent of wholesale and retail trading controlled
by the private sector.
farmgate prices offered by private traders and millers further impose
difficulties in NFA procurements. Moreover,
higher farmgate prices become incentives influencing
farmers to unload larger portions of their produce to the commodity
market rather than keeping reserves for consumption.
Philippine Peasant Institute study notes
that 36.46 percent of the average yield per cropping season finds its way
to the market for cash, 23 percent for consumption, 15.11 percent for labor
payments and about 24.84 percent for seeds, wastage and others.
Pressed by meagre farm incomes and soaring production costs, many
farmers are compelled to sell palay meant for consumption raising to 60
percent the volume of produce reaching the market in exchange for cash.
In rice producing provinces like Antique,
this volume reaches 50-80 percent immediately after harvest
local rice and corn market is basically feasible and viable given
the fact that demand for food is constant and demand for feeds is rising.
Rice replaces corn for food and vice-versa.
Reduction in corn-for-food demand is partly due to changing food
consumption habits and availability of rice.
When the country imported rice from 1970 to 1976, one half of the
total corn supply was used for food. But
when rice supplies became abundant from 1978 to 1982, demand for
corn-for-food declined to 41 percent (Lara, 1992).
In the long term, demand for these commodities will continue to
widen proportionately to the still growing population.
of corn used in production respond mainly to market demands as against
subsistence requirements in the past.
The shift from corn-for-food to corn-for-feed, plus the increasing
demand of the expanding livestock
industry drastically changed the market for corn. Corn demand for food
declined from 44 percent in 1980 to 17.9 percent ten years later,
while that of feeds rose from 53 percent to 80 percent in the same period
(BAS 1989-90). Global trade
is likely to reverse the domestic demand for yellow corn as traders
tend to shift to imported poultry and meat
therefore dampening activity in the domestic livestock market.
there is a shift in demand for corn use, overall market demand is high and
production remain below par. Market
demand for corn amounted to 14,000 bags daily and production never had
enough to meet demand. As a
result imports covered the deficit. Imports
averaged 250,000 metric tons or $15 million a year (Lara, 1992).
In 1990, the country imported a record high of 345,000 metric tons
amounting to $39.3 million.
corn, there has been no major shift in rice use. However, the Department of Agriculture is contemplating
on the use of palay and its by-products as feed additive or feed base.
Rice production had always been a race against demand,
thus, the Philippines
remains a net importer of this food crop. In contemporary times,
rice production is threatened by the availability of cheaper sources
from other countries like Vietnam and Thailand.
ideal formula for a responsive market consist of just tenurial
arrangements, affordable credit, availability of basic infrastructures and
downstream markets in production areas�.
sum, the following features could be seen in the rice and corn production:
surplus labor through share cropping and leasehold tenancy (rent).
merchant capitalist (both
trader and usurer) sector has
emerged whose interests has become more determinative than landlord
interest in agriculture.
A significant small owner
cultivator mode or petty commodity production has developed in Philippine
agriculture employing wage labor. They also deal with merchant capitalist
and banks (finance capital). In
small landholdings, surplus
extraction is no longer a monopoly of the landlord over the peasant.
Rather, surplus is
extracted by formal or informal creditors,
traders and agricultural inputs dealers.
In fact, the
commodification of subsistence crops paved the way for the dominant role of
traders and creditors in surplus extraction.
features show a combined and uneven development of capitalism rather than a
�semi-feudal� mode of production in the rice and corn areas.
agricultural plantation, sugar, banana and other export crops, the mode of
production is organized along capitalist lines, wherein the company or
landlords extract not ground rent but profits from wage labor.
The same research study mentioned would show this development.
food crops include banana, tobacco, asparagus,
brocolli, cauliflower and others many of which also fall under the
classification of high-value crops. Some
crops, like banana and pineapple, are traditional exports.
exports undeniably command higher prices than traditional export crops. Even the crisis-ridden banana export industry has a
higher return per hectare compared to rice farming.
all non-traditional export crops being produced
today, asparagus stands out as the highest performer.
In the asparagus growing villages of Koronadal and Tupi in South
Cotabato, farmers report net earnings of PHP200,000.00 per hectare (Ofreneo,
et al, 1994). This figure
support more recent studies conducted by the authors.
In 1993, the total hectarage for asparagus was estimated to be 863
and pineapple are considered major agricultural exports with significant
earnings together with sugar, coconut, abaca, tobacco, coffee, etc.
Fruits and nuts except for coconut accounted for PHP
6,885,117,000.00 in revenues in 1991.
Tobacco, including flue-curing in farms, registered a total PHP
15,355,000.00 in revenues while
vegetable production, including root and tuber crops,
garnered a total of PHP 11,312,000 in revenues during the same year.
production of non-traditional export and high-value crops is gaining
importance in Philippine agriculture.
This is influenced by the present policy environment that gradually
puts a premium on the latter than to the production of basic food crops.
This environment is explicitly laid down in the blueprint for
agricultural development, or the Medium-Term Agricultural Development Plan
�global competitiveness� and �comparative advantage� by putting
land to best use are core concerns and operational principles guiding the
MTADP. Based on this, the Department of Agriculture projects a reduction of
rice and corn lands to 1.9 million hectares.
In this case, 3.1 million hectares would be converted to production
of �export winners� namely livestock and commercial crops (DA 1993).
This will be approached through the Key Commercial Crops Development
Program (KCCDP), which lists banana, papaya, cutflowers, asparagus and
crops with �potential� in the world market such as sesame, pimiento,
castor beans and essential oils. For
this, the DA earmarked some PHP26 billion, 25% of which would come from the
switch to �high-value� crops is given impetus by the Ramos
administration by enacting a law granting additional incentives to
production of asparagus, broccolli, celery, carrots, cauliflower, tomato,
bell pepper and others. This
according to the government, would liberate
farmers from poverty and create more jobs in the countryside.
Accordingly, a further boost would be provided by foreign investments
on products such as dried/processed fruits, prepared and canned fruits.
quite obvious that there is a growing number of farms that are being
organized along capitalist lines, spurred by transnational agribusiness.
They grow high value added crops for export. It also gave impetus to
landowners to modernize agricultural production causing dislocation among
the peasants and sending more people from the countryside to serve as
reserve army of labor.
in capitalist farms and plantations are reduced to wage laborer. The
peasants who are dislocated and not absorbed take on all sorts of jobs that
come their way, whether agricultural or not, such as masonry, carpentry,
decades of integration and recent experience in the rural areas point to
empirical observations that sufficiently outline the main characteristics
of the classes in the rural areas as follows:
of the rural population belong to the proletariat and semi-proletariat
whose main source of living come primarily from selling their labor power
on a regular and/or seasonal basis and whenever occasions for it arise.
land which are either too small and/or has low productivity due to its
location and/or lack of capacity for technological improvements.
Its produce falls far below the daily requirements of daily living
in the present society.
There is a sizable number of middle peasants who are
owner-cultivators or tenant peasants.
They are able to earn enough from farming to be able to make both
ends it. They do not resort to
selling their labor power to produce their basic necessities. Some may hire farm hands from time to time to maintain
their level of income from their farming.
A much smaller number of rich peasants exist who own productive
small farms, are tenant farmers of land owned by landlords or who invest
money-capital or agricultural inputs to buy and sell produce of direct
tillers. They have varied
capacities for technological improvements or investments.
They exploit direct tillers by wage labor in the form of direct
A few number of landlords who directly exploit the tillers of the
land mainly by exacting land rent in the form of rent in kind or rent in
Landlords who exact surplus value from the direct tillers mainly by
wage-labor and secondarily by the ground rent they get as
"owners" of the land.
Landlords who don't directly exploit the direct tillers but receive
rent in the form of money from farmer capitalists who rent the land,
usually in the fixed-rent form.
New type of landlord who
are able to maintain large tracts of land through legal manipulations
extract surplus not through exploitation of tenants but through tie ups
with investors and converting their landholdings to equities.
The rapid growth of the real estate industry is a glaring example of
the fusion of the role of landlords, the
State and the capitalists with the latter dictating the rules of the game.
rise to the following class contradictions:
contradiction between the landlord class and the peasant class -
this is affecting a continuously decreasing number of rural masses due to
the differentiation of the peasant class and the bankruptcy or
transformation of many landlords to capitalist landlords;
the emergence of a new landlord class
contradiction between the rural proletariat and semi- proletariat,
on the one hand, and the foreign monopoly-
capitalists, landlord-capitalists, and the rural bourgeoisie on the
other - this is affecting majority of the rural toiling masses; and
contradiction between the landlord class and rural
various forms of struggle, the Filipino workers are marching with their
kindred to frustrate the efforts of international monopoly capita in
preserving its mechanisms of dominance.
 Yearbook of Labor Statistics, 1994
 A Captive Land: The Politics of Agrarian Reform in the Philippines, James Putzel, 1994
 1991 Annual Survey of Establishments, Agriculture and Forestry, NCSO 1991
 Computations were based on results of case studies conducted by MODE Inc. in Bukidnon and South Cotabato from March to June 1997.
 James Putzel, A Captive Land: The Politics of Agrarian Reform in the Philippines, 1994
 Computation is based on the prevailing market price of PHP8.)) a kilo of palay at the time of the study.
 Rice Marketing in Luzon, Philippine Development Studies, Philippine Peasant Institute, 1990
 Policy Issues in Rice Marketing, Institute for Policy Studies, UP at Los Ba�os, 1986
 The GATT: Philippine Issues and Perspectives, GATT and the Non-Traditional Export: Global Farming for Whom?, Rene E. Ofreneo; 1996
WORKING CLASS MOVEMENT
REVOLUTIONARY MASS MOVEMENT
PEACE NEGOTIATION ELECTORAL STRUGGLE
NATIONAL QUESTION GENDER QUESTION
ORGANS OF POLITICAL POWER
REBOLUSYONARYONG PARTIDO NG MANGGAGAWA NG PILIPINAS
ON NATIONAL QUESTION
THE ORGANS OF POLITICAL POWER
ON ARMED STRUGGLE
ON PEACE NEGOTIATION
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CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS
RPM-P: BRIEF PROFILE
THE REVOLUTIONARY MASS MOVEMENT
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THE REVOLUTIONARY WORKER'S JOURNAL
ON ELECTORAL AND PARLIAMENTARY STRUGGLE