MASIPAG on the Day of the Landless: Genuine Land Reform is Genuine Food Security

March 29, 2023

by MASIPAG National Office

Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) is one with the peasantry around the world in combating the wide scale land grabbing and land dispossession by landlords and agrochemical corporations.

While the biggest agrochemical corporations cuddle with one another to maximize and safeguard their profit amid worsening global economic and food crises, it is the small farmers across the world who continuously feed the world.  In most cases, small and resource-poor farmers who practice agroecology while anchoring the outlook of their local food security through food sovereignty.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) about 70 to 80 percent of the world’s food are being produced by small and resource-poor farmers yet they only occupy 12 percent of the total arable land. On the other hand, only five agrochemical corporations namely Syngenta, Bayer, CropScience, BASF, and Corteva dominate the global agriculture market today. 

Building mergers among the biggest agrochemical corporations such as Syngenta and Bayer has been seen as a corporate strategy to further monopolize the global food and agriculture market while also doing virtually nothing in addressing the widening global food insecurity, their agenda also hastens the systematic land-grabbing and land dispossession among small farmers. 

“Our fellow farmers continue to serve as slaves to landlords and corporations. Our lands become cultivation areas of technologies and monocrop plantations that do not meaningfully benefit our farmers, fellow Filipinos, and the entirety of our food system,” said MASIPAG farmer chairwoman Virgina Nazareno.

Currently, the country’s total land area used for palay cultivation is around 4.81 million hectares. Yet in the recent pronouncements of Marcos Jr. and his plan to revive the MASAGANA program, Marcos Jr. aims to plant almost half of the total land area for palay cultivation or 1.9 million hectares with hybrid rice that is solely brought from SL Agritech corporation. On the other hand, GM Golden Rice which is owned by Syngenta is expected to be planted in some 500 thousand hectares of land around the country by 2026 according to PhilRice.

“We have seen how by the end of MASAGANA 99 and the miracle rice of the International Rice Research Institution (IRRI) in 1984, 95 percent of farmers in Central Luzon have outstanding debts in banks which allowed landlords and usurers to lock them into land grabbing a deal. We have also seen the massive crop failure which led to the bankruptcy of many farmers in Central Luzon that SL agritech’s hybrid rice had done in 2008” said MASIPAG national coordinator Alfie Pulumbarit. 

As duty bearers leave the answer to food insecurity to corporate-led technofix solutions instead of implementing genuine land reform paired with farmer-led agroecology to address food security, small and resource-poor farmers who are the world’s top food producers become further powerless in the overall agricultural value chain compared to commercial producers and other stakeholders. 

Moreover, according to the World Food Programme, around one-third of the global food production that can feed up to 600 million people end up in the garbage per year. 40 percent of losses occur in retail and consumer level while the other 40 percent of losses occur at post-harvesting and processing. Both are hugely facilitated and produced by transnational corporations and big landlords.

“Us small and resource-farmers being still able to provide the world’s food amid these crises is not a story of romantic resiliency. It is but a harsh and uphill struggle in forwarding and changing this corporate-led agriculture and food system. While these agrochemical corporations are monopolizing our food and agriculture raking all-time record high profits, us farmers and scientists have been warning our duty bearers that the current industrialized food and agriculture system will soon not be able to provide adequate food for all. ” added Nazareno. 

“Us MASIPAG farmers along with other small and resource-poor farmers of the world have proven not only our dedication but also the correctness of farmer-led agroecology by overcoming these crises amid structural disadvantages. It is most urgent to give the land to the farmers in order to achieve genuine food security. Likewise, it is now high time as well to shut down the pseudo-public research institutions like IRRI that criminally support the interests of these agrochemical institutions.” ended Nazareno.

For more than thirty years, MASIPAG has been actively advocating for farmers’ sovereignty over food, land, technology, and seeds. With its founding members consisting of scientists and farmers who first hand experienced the damage of IRRI’s scheme of corporatizing agriculture during the Green Revolution, the farmer-scientist network is fully resolved to liberate agriculture from the claws of the transnational agrochemical corporations and transform it into a farmer-led agriculture and pro-people food system anchored in the principles of agroecology and biodiversification