IT’S A bit disconcerting to hear President Benigno Aquino III telling Filipinos to learn agriculture from the Vietnamese. The advice at best appears to be one borne from misinformation, and at worse, another indication of our unnecessary insecurity over our country’s condition.
The Philippines after all is more developed than Vietnam, a country ravaged by wars of aggression by the French, Japanese and finally by the Americans since the start of the 20th century. Our country’s $1,890 GDP per capita, a measure of a nation’s level of development, is more than twice Vietnam’s $890.
Mr. Aquino advising Filipinos to learn from the success of Vietnam in agriculture is just like saying that residents of Metro Manila should learn farming from Mindanao since that region produces more rice than the metropolis. Vietnam is still a dominantly rural economy, with 73 percent of its people in rural areas (roughly the same proportion in Mindanao) compared to 37 percent for the Philippines. That our agricultural sector is more productive than that of Vietnam is reflected in the fact that even with much fewer people in agriculture, our agricultural value added as a percentage of the total economic output is 14 percent—close to Vietnam’s 20 percent.