MASIPAG on Earth Day: Investing in Earth is Investing in Peasant Farmers, not Corporations

April 22, 2023

by MASIPAG National Office

Today as the world observes Earth Day, MASIPAG puts forward the call of the peasant and resource-poor farmers of the world in transforming the current chemical intensive and environmentally degrading agriculture dominated by corporations towards a genuinely sustainable and environmentally attuned agriculture and food system.  

For the last century, conventional/chemical farming has dominated agriculture and our food system yet the supposedly gains from it were at the expense of the environment and social equity. Today, with the looming threat of climate catastrophe, enabled by chemical farming, radical change is now more than ever needed in agriculture practice and policy if it were to curb this threat. 

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.

Agroecology is a short term from the word ecology and agriculture or agriculture that uses the principles of ecology. It is the application of ecological concepts in agricultural production systems, that includes the study, design, and management. Agroecology is no longer a contested concept.  But constraints in wide/upscaling and mainstreaming still exist because mainstream scientists and policy makers still espouse the conventional paradigm of Malthusian thinking and espouses high tech solutions.  

Contrary to the supposedly “gains” in food security of  conventional farming proliferated by agrochemical corporations that stands as the primary blockage in upscaling agroecology, conventional agriculture is one of the main producers of greenhouse gasses due to its overreliance to synthetic inputs such as chemical pesticides and fertilizers. 

On the other hand, agroecology bypasses the need for these destructive inputs by relying on the environment and using sustainable means. In rice farming specifically, there is hardly any yield difference between organic through agroecology and conventional. But it’s true impact on the livelihood of the farmers and the environment are day and night – with organic ensuring that it is both ecologically and adequately safe while the conventional proving to be more environmentally harmful, chemically contaminated, and overall costly. 

Currently, the Philippine agriculture is at the crossroad with the issuance of the Writ of Kalikasan by the Supreme Court regarding the stoppage of GM crops Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant – biofortified crops who are supposedly the future of agriculture yet still follows the same profit oriented, unsustainability, and climate catastrophe-accelerating logic of conventional farming. For the longest time, GM crops owned by agrochemical corporations and disbursed it via pseudo-humanitarian reasons have been detrimental to the aspirations of the Filipino farmers in achieving genuine food security and food sovereignty. 

Forwarded by resource-poor farmers practicing agroecology, the Writ of Kalikasan is only but one of the many things how everyone can truly invest in the welfare of our Earth and therefore to the welfare of its inhabitant. 

It is now time to fight back and reclaim what is truly ours. It is now the time to finally break away from conventional farming and invest in our local farmers who know best how to transform our agriculture and save our earth. ###