Locals lauded the formal opening of a farmer-led seed center in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur, on Tuesday, May 9, 2023.
Prudencio Campos, chairman of MASIPAG’s Provincial Coordinating Body in Surigao del Sur, said that various farmers’ organizations opted to establish a seed center to cushion the impacts of incoming climate-related disasters on the local food security, especially since the province is considered to be among the most vulnerable areas to climate change.
Farmers have lamented their experiences of stronger and more frequent typhoons, and irregular and intensifying rainfall, such as the Tropical Storm Auring (Dujuan) and Odette (Rai) in 2021, which resulted in the sudden loss or reduction in their crops and livestock production.
Farmers’ organizations, together with the MASIPAG network, also believed that the seed center serves as an assertion of farmers’ rights to preserve and propagate traditional and locally adapted seeds for their communities, liberating them from the continued distribution of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) and genetically modified crops that are harmful to the human health and biodiversity.
“If we look into the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, it is the farmers who must have the rights to own, use, conserve, and develop seeds,” said Leo XL Fuentes, regional coordinator of MASIPAG Mindanao. “And this effort of opening a seed center serves as a huge contribution in preserving seeds not only in Surigao del Sur but also to the entire world.”
During the program, Surigao farmers received more traditional rice and vegetable seeds from other MASIPAG farmers from different localities in Mindanao.
The opening activity was also attended by Marcos Quico, Provincial Agriculture Officer; Bernardo Pontillo, Municipal Agriculture Officer; representatives from the Department of Agriculture; and Nestor Avila, Barangay Bayan Chairman.