October 15, 2021

by MASIPAG National Office


Maria Corazon Jimenez-Tan

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a health, food, and socio-economic crisis that impacted most especially the poor sectors in the urban and rural communities. It revealed the deep-seated problems in the public health system and the agriculture and food system, and the absence of adequate and accessible basic social services that have historically rendered millions of Filipinos poor, unhealthy, and food insecure.

In the midst of inadequate state support and the government’s militarist approach in enforcing health and safety protocols, we witnessed communities responding to the needs of sectors hardest hit by the pandemic including vulnerable frontliners. We witnessed the collective action of basic social sectors and grassroots organizations that forged social solidarities in demanding for government’s response to our people’s urgent need for food, health, and social protection during the pandemic; stood with the people to resist and struggle against state attacks on human rights; and amplified the people’s calls for quality public health, sustainable food systems, and fulfillment of basic human rights.

This paper aims to draw lessons from MASIPAG, a network of small farmers’ organizations that creatively responded to this health, food, and socioeconomic crisis. It seeks to gain insights from how these organizations of small farmers and women farmers nurtured and sustained their families, organizations, and communities through agroecological farming practices, organizing and organizational development work efforts, and networking, 87 alliance and partnership building for the common good. This study hopes to lead to a better appreciation of what social solidarity is, and the critical role of small farmers, including women farmers, in building social solidarity towards the promotion of sustainable agriculture and food systems.

This study is significant as it hopes to show how organized farmers, practicing collective/communal, sustainable, and agroecological agriculture serve as one of the foundations of alternative, people-centered, farmer-led rural and agricultural development and sustainable local food systems. It also shows that the basis of the social solidarity that surges during crises, such as this pandemic, actually results from long years of organizing and advocacy work and social movement building of people’s organizations and grassroots communities towards radical social transformation.

Read the full article here:

Tan, M. C. J (2021). Seeds of hope in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic: Collective
responses and social solidarity building of the MASIPAG small farmers’
organizations. Philippine Journal of Social Development, 14, 86–115.

About the author: Maria Corazon Jimenez-Tan is an associate professor at the UP College of Social Work and Community Development. Tan also served as an undersecretary of the National Anti-Poverty Commission.