Category Archives: News & Updates

Food and Land, Not Bombs and Martial Law

Statement of MASIPAG MINDANAO on the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao

The extension of Martial Law (ML) in Mindanao is a brazen attack against the Filipino people especially the Moro and the Lumad farmers across our island. While the Duterte administration insists that this will end terrorism, the Moro and the Lumads in the grassroots are much terrorized by state sponsored aerial bombardments, harassments and arbitrary arrests of farmer leaders.

Prior to the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, human rights abuses are being wantonly carried out by state forces and paramilitary troops. After the declaration of ML, more abuses have been documented. Even MASIPAG member People’s Organizations (POs) experienced state terrorism first hand.

In Compostela Valley Province, four farmer-leaders of Compostela Farmers Association (CFA) and a driver were arbitrarily arrested and charged with trumped up cases. In Monkayo town, officers of Monkayo Farmers Association (MoFA) were held by an army unit, but were fortunately released hours after intimidation. In Bukidnon and North Cotabato provinces, at least six member POs of MASIPAG experienced restrictions to attend to their farm.

Even in Davao City, since March this year, aerial bombardments caused series of evacuation in the communities of Marilog and Calinan Districts that affected at least three of our member POs.

The series of mass evacuations resulted not just displacement of people but also displacements of their livelihood. Since the Martial Law declaration, the frequent evacuation have disrupted farm activities and decimated important farm resources such as livestock. Their farmlands start to become barren when they are unable to tend them, as military and militia men restrict the movements of the farmers. Many communities remain in military hamlet.

With the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao until December 31, 2017, we can already expect a decrease in agricultural productivity, especially among the resource poor farmers in the countryside. As the extension of Martial Law employs more and more aerial bombardments, it is expected that more and more farmlands will be destroyed by bombs.

Today, as the president delivers his second State of the Nation Address, we farmers and scientists appeal to our government, especially to our president to stop dropping bombs in our farmlands and communities. The extension of ML will not do any good to our country. We need to continue to till our farms in order to feed this hungry nation. We need land and food, not bombs and carnage.#

Trial Farms in Mindanao Continue to Grow

MASIPAG’s Trials farms have a minimum of 50 Traditional Rice Varieties and MASIPAG rice, and are living community seedbanks. Farmers study and select adaptive varieties from the trial farms and design cultural management practices suited to their particular agro-climatic conditions.

The farmers observe the characteristics of the different varieties and selections to assess them for suitability to the local environmental conditions and pest resistance. The top ten performing locally adapted varieties are then chosen for planting.

An important spin-off from the community level organizing is that the mosaic effect of the different neighbouring varieties creates a barrier to pests and diseases because of the differential resistance between varieties. The trial farm involves no cost to the farmers except for the collective work required for its maintenance. By planting several varieties on their farms, farmers also benefit from the different rates of plant maturity. Harvest is spread over a longer period allowing the farmer to spread out the work, rather than having to hire in costly outside labor.#

Job Opportunity at MASIPAG

MASIPAG (Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura, Farmer-Scientist Partnership), is a nationwide network of farmers’ organizations, scientists and non-government organizations working to empower resource-poor Filipino farmers through their control of seeds and biological resources, agricultural production and technologies, and associated knowledge.

Our regional office in Luzon is looking for a dynamic, self-driven individual who is committed to make his/her contribution to development work.

We are looking for a Program Coordinator on Climate Change Resilience who can assume leadership in planning, coordination and operationalization of the component activities of the Climate Change Resiliency Program. He or she will work in close coordination with MASIPAG Area Coordinators and the local partner organizations and people’s organizations (POs) on the ground.

Specific tasks include:

1. Initiating the planning and implementation of the program component activities and discussing results and assessment with the immediate supervisor;
2. Conducting needs assessment of the POs and their communities and facilitating the implementation of climate change resilience building interventions;
3. Assisting or guiding the POs in planning for the development of community-wide sustainable and resilient farming practices and in the assessment of the same;
4. Initiating linkage building and resource mobilization with capable groups, organizations or institutions in support to the needs of assisted communities and POs;
5. Innovating ways in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the program implementation;
6. Enhancing the functioning of the committee system of the POs and strengthen the practice of Bayanihan system;
7. Monitoring and documenting successful resilient practices and experiences of assisted communities and their organization;
8. Preparing and submitting required reports to immediate supervisor;
9. Performing other tasks as may be delegated by immediate supervisor.

Accountability: Reports to the Regional Coordinator

Interested applicants may send their application letter and resume to masluz@masipag.org addressed to:

Mr. Eugene Britanico
Regional Coordinator
MASIPAG Luzon

#

Training Mindanao’s Next Breeders

Davao City – MASIPAG successfully concluded a rice breeding training among its members and partners to further step up the initiatives for food security and assert farmers’ control over genetic resources.

“We borrowed what we know about rice breeding from Ka Pecs, we are just here to share it to you,” says Berbardo M. Portillo, an experienced rice breeder from Surigao del sur, as he shared his expectations for the rice breeders training.

Perfecto “Ka Pecs” Vicente – one of Masipag’s pillars, was well cherished by those who knew him and was loved by those who share his passion for uplifting the lives of resource poor farmers. His most ardent admirers are the farmers he trained in rice breeding, Bernardo one of them.

“We are blessed to have with us the trainers who were trained by Ka Pecs himself,” says Lucille Ortiz referring to the trainers, one of them is Precila “Diday” Gomez, who brought with her the actual visual aides used by Ka Pecs.

“He would be so proud” adds Ortiz.

The training participants, fifteen all in all, are Masipag farmers, representatives of partner institutions and local governments who have successfully established trial farms in their respective localities. Their rice farms are under various stages of development, some of which are on the cusp of mass production.

“We are happy to be attending this training,” says Marelyn of Bunga Coconut Farmers Association of Lanuza Surigao Del Sur. She says that the breeding techniques taught during that training would be a valuable tool for them to develop and improve the genetic qualities of their rice stocks so that they would no longer pay huge sums of money for hybrid varieties peddled to them by traders.

“This is a huge breakthrough for Mindanao,” exclaims Leo XL Fuentes, Mindanao’s Regional Coordinator. “This is the first time that we, as the new Masipag Mindanao will be having this training,” he adds. “This training would not have been made possible if not for the farmers who have painstakingly endured the hardships of Masipag’s organization problems and persevered in their collective efforts to establish their trial farms,” Fuentes adds.

Fuentes shares that providing farmers with the ability to bring greater genetic diversity to their rice stocks through participatory rice breeding could offer significant layers of protection against genetic erosion and ultimately against climate change as farmers can now improve rice traits which are more responsive to various climatic conditions such as drought, flood and salinity.

“Being dubbed as the food basket of the country, Mindanao’s agricultural economy would greatly benefit from farmers who are empowered, driven and have a high technical competence as it charts a more sustainable future moving forward,” Fuentes adds.

Farmer-led rice breeding has been one of the core programs of MASIPAG. Through rice breeding, farmers are able to exercise their control over the genetic resources they use in their farms. As of 2016, MASIPAG has a total collection of 506 farmer-bred rice and around 70 farmer rice breeders.

For more photos of the training, check out MASIPAG in Mindanao’s Facebook page. #

On the Occasion of Earth Day: Farmers-scientists group expresses support for Sec. Gina Lopez and calls for the protection of environment

PRESS RELEASE

Farmers-scientists group MASIPAG welcomes the renewed appointment of Dept. Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez by President Rodrigo Duterte, and deems it timely with the global commemoration of Earth Day this April 22. The President re-dappointed Sec. Lopez, along with Sec. Judy Taguiwalo (Welfare), Sec. Rafael Mariano (Agrarian Reform) and Sec. Paulyn Ubial (Health) after they were bypassed by the Committee of Appointments in the House of Representatives.

“We are pleased with the re-appointment of Sec. Gina Lopez, as we believe that she strongly cares for the environment and the people,” Cris Panerio, National Coordinator of MASIPAG. “We laud her firm stand against the destruction of our natural resources, especially by large-scale mining operations.”

“In this day and age when we are already experiencing the intense effects of climate change, now is the time to stop destructive activities such as large-scale, commercial mining and massive use of harmful agricultural chemicals. We should now focus on rehabilitating the environment and preserving what is left of our precious biodiversity and natural resources,” added Panerio.

In March, the CA refused to confirm Sec Lopez after mining companies intensely lobbied to oppose her appointment at Philippine Congress. Sec. Lopez has recently declared the closure of 23 mines and the suspension of operations of 5 mines found to be violating environmental laws, after an audit of 41 mining firms. She is now at the receiving end of both the praise of environmental groups, and flak from mining companies and apologists, with the representatives of the latter testifying against Sec. Lopez during the CA hearings.

MASIPAG and its member organizations strongly oppose large-scale mining because of its impacts on food and agricultural production, the loss of biodiversity and destruction of the environment.

“Contrary to the promise of better life for the people and the community, the mining operations in our province only brought suffering,” said Elmer Bolusan, a farmer-leader from MASIPAG in Nueva Vizcaya. “It is deplorable that mining companies brag about rural development when in fact they only destroy our environment, our source of culture and livelihood. The big mining corporations benefit from environmental destruction while the people remain hungry and poor.”

Nueva Vizcaya is among the provinces with the most number of mining applications – said to be almost double the size of the province as the applications are “piled on top of the other.” Farmers and indigenous peoples’ groups in the province have been locked in an intense battle as the mining applications stand to damage critical watershed areas.

“The mining operations in the mountain ranges of Nueva Vizcaya have displaced scores of settlers, destroyed sources of livelihoods, and even caused the conflicts among tribes that are traditionally at peace with each other,” stated Bolusan.

“We need a DENR secretary like Sec. Gina Lopez who has the political will to go after destructive mining operations that poses threats to environment and people’s health and livelihood,” Roberto Cordova, a farmer leader from Negros.

“In southern Negros, the operation of Maricalum Mining Company (MMC) has brought untold sufferings for farmers and years of protest remains unheard by DENR officials. The collapse of the tailings dam of MMC has destroyed more than 1,000 hectares of rice lands in Sipalay City and cases of heavy metal poisoning among the populace. Almost 85 percent of land area of the City of Sipalay and Municipality of Hinobaan were covered by mining applications,” added Cordova.

“Despite the outrageous claims of the mining companies, and even some academe, the contribution of the mining industry in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) only ranges from 0.6-0.7% since 2012,” said XL Fuentes Jr., Regional Coordinator for MASIPAG in Mindanao. “Meanwhile, agriculture contributes 10% of our GDP, therefore farming is far more significant in our economy and is way less destructive than mining.”

“Sec. Gina is right in putting priorities in the conservation of our environment and natural resources to benefit the people, and for that, she has all our support,” added Fuentes.

Sec. Lopez’s advocacy is right along the campaigns and calls of MASIPAG for a more sustainable development, as espoused in MASIPAG’s programs for farmer-led and farmer-centered sustainable agriculture. For more than 30 years, MASIPAG has pushed for an alternative method of agricultural productions that emphasized the conservation and improvement of agrobiodiversity, and maximizing the available natural resources to improve and develop farm production. MASIPAG promotes diversification and integration of farms, as well as using local resources for soil fertility management, enabling the farmers to avoid the use of harmful synthetic chemical inputs. The reduced cost of production, along with the added income from surplus agricultural products has allowed the farmers to also enjoy the economic, as well as health benefits of organic, sustainable production. ###