This feature is first published on BitPinas: [Feature] Connecting Caraga to the World Through Emerging Technologies
Technology plays a pivotal role in the development of society. Through technology. We have harnessed electricity, information and natural resources into machines and electronics. The practice of harnessing natural energy and resources allowed society to leap towards the phase known as the Industrial Revolution, early in the 19th century. Since then, we’ve moved into the energy age, the information age and the coming convergence of emerging technologies such as Automation, AI and Blockchain among others.
Despite the reshaping power of technology across key nations, the geographical and cultural differences across continents has created a disparity in terms of technological progress and sustainable practices when feeding economies from the surrounding natural resources. However, as the world is getting smaller and technology adoption rates are becoming faster, emerging technologies and its promise are making their way into once distant corners of the world.
Over the years, the region of Caraga in Mindanao was the focus of my company’s partners when it comes to their socio-economic development projects that involve the local cooperation of local and indigenous tribal leaders.
Caraga is rich in natural resources with fertile lands that is ideal for agriculture products such as rice, bananas and coconut trees, just to name a few. Caraga’s woodland is vast, approximately 684,503 hectares of forests. The region is known to be the leading producer and supplier of timber wood of the country.
More than the natural resources, I believe that the greatest resource that the Caraga region has to offer is the unique cultural heritage of its population, which it inherited from its ancient customs that still survive today. With a growing population of over 2.5 Million according to the Philippine 2015 Census of Population, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) stated that the region is experiencing a population growth of 1.28 percent annually.
Population growth and its sustainability presents a challenge to the societal, cultural and sustainable development of the region. Based on the Caraga Convergence Initiative findings, there are over 500,000 Indigenous People in Caraga that are without legal identities. In the whole Philippine archipelago, there are over 14 Million Indigenous People that are without identities. Globally, there are over 1.4 Billion people who are living without identities. These include Indigenous people, displaced people and people living in poverty.
Progress and Inclusion
As society progresses, the disparity between leading nations and developing nations are becoming apparent in terms of economy, technology and governance. The philosophy of inclusion and progress is a nuanced one: When progress occur, inclusion will start later. Or does Inclusion signify true progress? Fundamentally, Inclusion and Progress are factors that is caught in a developmental race. Individual progress is a natural phenomenon that bypasses the existing status quo, challenges the established order of things and throughout history, have produced brilliant men and women, along with their respective contributions to society. Only when these discoveries or inventions are shared, and then placed into beneficial action, inclusivity of progress is fostered.
In regards to the Caraga and other regions in the Philippines, the philosophy of virtue states that true progress in both society and philosophy will be attained when there are no people or individuals left behind. This includes breaking down the barriers between development and grassroots, unraveling the once invisible, enabling access to social services and granting legal identities to the once undocumented. In short, the granting of identities to people is the start of economic inclusion.
In previous articles, I have discussed Digital Identity and its impact for Economic Inclusion that defines Economic Identities as an enabler for participation. In the development of Caraga, the native people and their Indigenous brethren are the best pillars to develop, reshape and define sustainable developments in Caraga.
The embedding of knowledge, the training in certification and enhancements of technology – combined with the people’s terrain knowledge and their distinct ingenuity — are foundational in modernizing the region’s agriculture, business and economic outputs.
The modernization of Caraga could start with digital identities for inclusion. Digital identity technology and its self-sovereign are reshaping governance of information across global institutions. The centralized database and parallel storage architecture of identity record-keeping will eventually make way to the Blockchain identity model. For Caraga, it is placing identity on a robust, decentralized and secured platform for governance. It is in-line with the Philippine National ID (PhilSys) program, that aims to provide national identification cards to all Filipinos across the country.
New Economy Under Blockchain
The introduction of a new economy under Blockchain in Caraga will enable modern and sustainable practices in putting their natural resources to good use – to connect at the forefront of the world market. Blockchain technology is reshaping modern economies and for Caraga, the once distant region can have greater participation in the global trade of economic by-products.
In the not so distant future, Blockchain economies will converge thanks to interopability, cross-chain and parallel decentralization. In the grand scheme of things, to enable participation of industries such as agriculture into the global market, local producers and cooperatives must put up a functioning Blockchain to connect to the industrialized macro economies.
With participation comes merit and Blockchain will full-proof benefits. Blockchain will ensure that earnings from markets will reach down to the basic level producer – without the need for intermediary clearance desks, in a transparent yet secured finance & agriculture enabled Blockchain. That setup will eliminate unfair treatments of farmers, ensure market benefits trickle to farmers and empower them with further cooperative incentives in their work as a producer.
To me, Blockchain technology will help connect Caraga and its economy to the global economy. It must start with the inclusion via identities. This is also a feasible model to connect other regions of the Philippines to the global market.