The Philippines, being a tropical country, has a rich biodiversity. The country’s richness in flora and fauna is also reflected in the diversity of our vegetables at the species and varietal levels. However, relentless promotion of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) by Agri-Transnational Corporations (Agri-TNCs) like Golden Rice and BT eggplant and facilitated by the government puts these rich biodiversity at risk through genetic erosion and contamination. While structural problems remain the major cause of rural underdevelopment, corporate domination of agriculture and food systems exacerbates further rural poverty, health of the farmers and consumers and balanced ecology.
One of MASIPAG’s farmer empowerment agenda is to enable farmers to regain control and management of seeds including its improvement through breeding and its production. In its initial years, MASIPAG has focused on rice as rice is the staple food of Filipinos. Through the efforts of MASIPAG, with the farmer rice breeders and their POs, in the last 30 years or so, MASIPAG has achieved independence in rice in terms of conservation, management, and control of rice seeds. MASIPAG wants to replicate this vast experience in rice conservation with vegetables.
These experiences is believed to facilitate the realization of the network’s aspiration toward seed and food sovereignty together with RightSeeds. The RightSeeds is a collaborative research project by the Universities of Oldenburg and Göttingen with the Institute for Ecological Economy Research based in Germany that strongly supports and promotes open seed source have vast experience in vegetable breeding with a strong belief on seeds as commons – one of the principles that MASIPAG adheres to.
Through years of learning exchanges, MASIPAG and RightSeeds present to you today a video documentary entitled “Binhi Para sa Lahat (Seeds are Commons): Strengthening small farmers’ initiatives towards local vegetable seed conservation”. This film aims to highlight, though in different contexts, the practices and local initiatives on seed conservation, seed sharing, and exchanges and how these practices serve as a form of expression to assert farmers’ rights, particularly to seed.