DA-PhilRice: 37 years of Corporatizing agriculture, 37 years of crimes against Filipino Farmers

January 18, 2023

by MASIPAG National Office

On DA-PhilRice 37th founding anniversary, farmer-led network Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) condemns DA-PhilRice for its continuous subservience to Corporation’s band-aid solutions that further harm our farmers.

During the height of the BIGAS 1985 Conference, a nationwide consultation that represented 75,000 farmers, scientists, government authorities and IRRI representatives to tackle the detrimental effects of IRRI’s wide scale implementation of high yielding varieties and chemical farming through MASAGANA 99, one of the agendas during the conference which was represented by 75,000 farmers was to “review the contract with IRRI; Filipinize its administration; or kick it out of the country.”

And indeed the agenda was resolved but hijacked by the purveyors of corporate agriculture and the further demise of our local agriculture through the creation of DA-PhilRice in the same year.

“For the past 37 years, DA-Philrice has worked with a lot of projects to help improve rice production. And what did it do in return? It betrayed our farmers and instead intensified the unsustainable way of chemical farming that the farmers from the BIGAS conference 37 years ago wished to abolish. To add insult to injury, DA-Philrice indeed Filipinized the operations of IRRI not to serve our Filipino farmers, but rather to become its open door to further their agenda of colonizing and plundering our agriculture and food system.” said Alfie Pulumbarit MASIPAG National Coordinator.

“It is quite insulting that DA-PhilRice prides itself in delivering quality and new rice technologies in order to help us rice farmers while in reality they only treat us as laboratory rats to corporate technologies such as Golden Rice and Bt eggplant. Would it hurt them to once and for all include us farmers, who they say they serve, in shaping our own agriculture?” shared by Larry Diego, MASIPAG.

“I have been practicing organic sustainable farming for decades and not once has DA-PhilRice given any adequate support to us small farmers, on the contrary, it gave us more problems. With DA-PhilRice being the main public proponent of GMO crop Golden Rice that will threaten our recovering rice biodiversity through genetic and environmental contamination, we farmers left no choice but to file a petition against them to the supreme court in order to stop it.” added by Tay Larry who is also one of the farmers who filed the court petition.

“The DA-PhilRice’s more than three decades of criminal neglect to our farmers and environment need to be condemned in the highest form. We are facing an economic and environmental crisis yet DA-PhilRice’s answer to it is a regurgitation of the Green Revolution of the 1970s where it wiped out our country’s rich rice biodiversity by replacing the more than two thousand varieties of traditional rice with a single variety that is highly dependent to chemical inputs.” said by Viriginia Nazareno, MASIPAG Farmer Chairman and also one of the farmer petitioners.

In a bid to stop the commercial propagation of GMO crops Golden Rice and Bt eggplant and to avert the impending irreversible environmental damage that these crops will inflict to the local rice and eggplant biodiversity, MASIPAG along with its farmer members, allied scientists and civil society organizations filed the Writ of Kalikasan with Continuing Mandamus against DA-PhilRice to the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

Ironically, DA-PhilRice even have the delusion to hold Rice Awareness on the same month of their founding anniversary by promoting local brown and unpolished rice that small farmers have meticulously bred and organically cultivated that their flagship and foreign-owned Golden Rice project threatens to erase.

Indeed, 37 years ago, PhilRice was one of the many hopes of the struggling Filipino farmers in finally freeing themselves from the hardships of the Green Revolution, yet it clearly and continuously betray the Filipino farmers and its reason for being: “to help respond to the needs of the struggling rice farmers and the country’s endeavors to attain self-sufficiency in rice.”

MASIPAG condemns to the highest form DA-PhilRice’s criminal negligence and betrayal to the Filipino farmers . Amid climate emergency and global economic crisis, the farmer-led network asserts that nothing meaningful will come out with DA-PhilRice’s “identified solutions” for our farmers unless they shift their thrust in support of our local rice production and genuinely include our farmers in creating climate and environmentally-apt technologies.

Uphold rice research and development by and for the farmers!