Category Archives: MASIPAG in the news

New Report on Transformational Food Systems Launched

MASIPAG among the 21 featured initiatives

The Global Alliance for the Future of Food and Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development have released a new report addressing the “significant transformation needed for the future of food that is resilient, renewable, healthy, equitable, diverse and interconnected.” Titled “Beacons of Hope: Accelerating Transformations to Sustainable Food Systems” the report features 21 initiatives that pushes for a more sustainable and equitable food systems, including MASIPAG.

Check out the report here and here.

In the News: Agri goods import plan, a ‘band-aid’ solution – Masipag

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A network of farmers and scientists the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG in Mindanao) has expressed concern on the decision of the Department of Agriculture to import more agricultural products amid the rice crisis that the country is facing.

“The Department of Agriculture’s plan to import more rice is a band-aid solution and will not solve the roots of the rice-shortage that is the landlessness of the tillers, cartel-controlled rice trading, and weak post-harvest support and marketing, “Leo XL Fuentes MASIPAG Mindanao Regional Coordinator said.

It could be recalled that President Rodrigo Duterte has issued Administrative Order 13 last September 21, which streamlines the administrative procedures on the importation of agricultural products. The same AO also removes the non-tariff barriers on the importation of rice as well.

AO 13 gives further authority to the National Food Authority (NFA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to adopt measures in a bid to tame the price spikes, and address the supply shortage of basic agricultural commodities.

But Fuentes warned that such importation plan would only worsen the country’s dependence on imports, a scheme which, he said, was implemented during the Aquino and Arroyo administrations.

“They already lifted the minimum access volume restriction, thus allowing more and more imported rice which in effect will further the dependence of our country on imports. While Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol’s administration does not veer away with that of his predecessors by allowing massive conversion of land by big -agribusiness plantations like palm-oil and banana,” he stressed.

To illustrate his point, Fuentes said the Palm-Oil industry road-map is set to convert one million hectares of land to oil-palm plantation, 98 percent of which will be in Mindanao.

“If this government is sincere in providing food security to the country, import dependence must stop,” Fuentes said, adding that rice importation is part of the imposition of the World Trade Organization on our agricultural economy.

According to Fuentes, the import plan is subservient to neo-liberalism to maintain a backward agriculture sector characterized by being export-oriented and import-dependent.

He added that the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) recognizes that agricultural trade incurred a deficit of USD 1.285 Billion in 2005 and USD 3.796 Billion in 2015. “The trend there is clear, that if we maintain such export-oriented and import-dependent economy, we are heading towards economic collapse.” Fuentes pointed out.

In 2009, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IASSTD) suggested that local food production and small-scale agriculture will be the way to ensure food security for the future.

“If this government is sincere, it must have a comprehensive food security plan. It must immediately legislate genuine agrarian reform and distribute lands to the tillers, put a moratorium on land and crop conversion as well as plantation expansion, scrap the palm-oil industry road map, provide sufficient support and appropriate technologies both in production, post-harvest and even at the marketing level,” he said. (

Rise for Rice: Discussing Organic Farming and the Pathway to Food Sovereignty

Farmer organization holds event to highlight the role of heirloom crops and organic farming in feeding the nation.

By Yvette Tan

Good Food Community, a community supported agriculture (CSA) initiative partnered with Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) to host an event highlighting the role of local crops in securing the country’s food sovereignty. In other words, they wanted to show that Filipino farmers can be capable of growing enough food to feed its entire population without need for importation.

“Masipag is a national network of farmers organizations, NGOs, and scientists promoting sustainable agriculture in the Philippines,” says MASIPAG National Coordinator Cris Panerio. “We are in rural development work. Our people’s organization conserves and improves traditional rice varieties, among other traditional varieties like corn, native chicken, native hogs.”

Called Rise for Rice, the second in the series included a small buffet of different local organic rice varieties grown by MASIPAG members around the Philippines. There were also dishes made from vegetables sourced from Good Food Community as well as short lectures on the benefits of growing and consuming organic produce. “I believe that we have enough food crops (to) ensure the food security and the food sovereignty of the nation,” Panerio says. “We are a mega-center of diversity, not only in wildlife but also in agricultural-biological diversity.”

Nanay Virgie’s Story

Some MASIPAG members were on hand to share their experiences on switching to organic farming. Nanay Virginia “Virgie” Nazareno from Calacar, Quezon has always practiced organic farming because that was what her grandfather taught them. “Nagtatanim kami ng palay, gulay, niyog, saging, any kind of fruit trees.”

A member since 2002, she has always believed in organic farming, even—to quote the many hispters out there—before it was cool. “Tayo naman ay pwedeng magtanim ng wala naman tayong ilalagay na kemikal at mayroon naman kaming alternative. Halimbawa, nagco-compost kami para may mailagay kaming organic sa aming palayan, sa aming gulay, sa aming crops.”

But the biggest proof of organic farming’s effectivity for her, as with many farmers, is yield. “Sa ngayon ay pumapantay na din yung kita sa chemical at sa organic. Sa ibang area na medyo matagal na, lumalampas pa ang ani kumpara mo doon sa chemical.”

There is evidence to support this. “In 2008, we conducted an impact study of our program and we found that in terms of yield, our (local organic) rice varieties are comparable with the conventional ones. There is no significant statistical difference,” Panerio says.

He adds, “But in terms of income, MASIPAG organic farmers were able to get more from their organic farms compared to their conventional counterparts. Their production cost is less. They produce their own seeds, they are able to produce their own organic fertilizer. They don’t need pesticides, and they practice diversified integrated farming system. They were not only able to feed their families, but create surpluses as well that they can sell to their neighbors.”

Aling Aileen’s Story

Same with Aileen Bawet from Apayao Province. “Ang sinasaka namin, mayroon sa bukid, mga palay sa upland tsaka may prutas—rambutan, kape, at lansones, saging.”

A member since 2008, she has experienced firsthand the difference between organic and inorganic farming. “Ang malaking diperensya sa paglipat sa organic, hindi ka kinakapitan ng sakit. Kasi pag nasa chemical ka, hindi ligtas ang pagkain mo. Hindi mo pwedeng kainin ang pagkain na nakukuha mo. Sa organic, kahit sabihin nila na mabusisi sa paggawa sa pataba, mas ligtas ka naman at tsaka pareho ang ani.”

Apparently, they didn’t use to eat the cash crops they planted. Not anymore. “Pag gusto mo kumuha ng gulay at organic ka naman, ligtas po. Kahit hindi mo na hugasan, punta ka lang sa garden kasi may backyard garden ka rin. Tapos yung pagkain mo, bigas na galing sa sakahan mo. Di kami gumagamit ng pahalo-halo na vetsin, natural lang talaga.”

Solving the Issue of Food Security

Organic farming is just part of the equation. MASIPAG also encourages local marketing and processing to offer farmers more opportunity for income. Products are sold in nearby communities. In short, they practice locavore, slow food, farm to table dining, but without the fancy names. “In MASIPAG, when we say food security, it doesn’t only mean abundance,” Panerio says. “It means sapat, ligtas, at samu’t-sari. Samu’t -sari means diverse food because you cannot only be sufficient in rice. You have to eat rice with diverse agricultural products—vegetables, meat products, eggs—products that can be provided by farmers, actually.”

Adequate, safe, and diverse. Sounds like the recipe to a food-secure nation.#


Group warns PH vs ‘golden rice’: It’s not the solution to malnutrition

A regional coalition of farmers, consumers, and environment activists has called on the government to reject “foreign safety stamps” on the genetically-engineered “golden rice,” which might pose risk to public health.

The Stop Golden Rice Network asserted that such stamp of approval from other countries might be a ploy to exploit the nation’s weak regulations and policy loopholes on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in order to have the golden rice released in the Philippines.

In a statement, the coalition said the recent approval in foreign countries of the genetically-modified crop might soon lead to “start feeding trials among children and pregnant women in Philippines and Bangladesh.”

Health Canada posted its approval decision of GM Vitamin A enhanced “Golden Rice” last March 16, 2018 amid public concerns, according to the group.

The Network said the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) had also filed application for safety approval and trade clearance of golden rice last 2017 to the United States, Canada, and Australia.

But these decisions, according to the group, are questionable.

“We also question why the International Rice Research Institute is seeking safety approval from Canada, Australia, and the US while farmers and consumers in Asia who plant and eat rice as a staple are left in the dark,” said Cris Panerio of Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag), a farmers network in the Philippines and a member of the Network.

“Promoting readily available, diverse, and safe Vitamin A food sources from sustainable and ecological farming is the long term solution to combat malnutrition, ensure food security and health, not genetically modified crops like Golden Rice,” he added.

Launched in 2000, golden rice is genetically-engineered to produce beta-carotene, the precursor of Vitamin A, and touted to address malnutrition and Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD).

Syngenta, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Rockefeller Foundation have poured millions of dollars to IRRI to develop Golden Rice in Bangladesh and the Philippines in 2011, according to the Network.

But the group said controversies and conflict have impeded its release in the past two decades.

Ana Bibal, campaign coordinator of the Network, said the approval of Health Canada and Food Standards Australia New Zealand of the golden rice was a “product of corporate lobbying.”

“Scientific findings that questions its viability, safety, and intention were left out; and social concerns were not addressed. Golden Rice will not cure blindness nor address the complex social problem of malnutrition. Instead, Golden Rice commercialization in Asia will translate to unbridled profit, massive trade of unregulated GMO rice and promotion of biofortified GM crops,” she noted.

The Stop Golden Rice! Network consists of organizations from more than 30 countries in Asia.#


MASIPAG in the Media: Canadian NGO Cites MASIPAG Position on Health Canada Golden Rice Approval

Canadian regulator Health Canada has approved the application of Golden Rice in their country.

Click this link to read more.