Los Baños, Laguna | Yesterday, the Farmer-led network Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) celebrated its 38th anniversary by launching a farmer-led fair at the University of the Philippines Los Banos. With the theme Mula sa Magsasaka, Para sa Magsasaka (By the Farmers, For the Farmers), the farmer-led network showcased its more than three decades of work as a farmer-led network in rural development with its mission to improve the quality of life of resource-poor farmers, and a vision for a just and humane society that is sustainable, and where there is holistic development for the people.
“I’m grateful to MASIPAG for the training and seminars that they have given to us for it helped us in securing our local food security and helped us transition to sustainable organic agriculture. What we learned from MASIPAG is that farmer-led agroecology goes beyond the sole impression of agricultural methods and techniques. By giving us farmers the avenue to lead, capacitate, and advocate farmer-led agroecology not only to our fellow farmers but also to other sectors of society, we see the Filipino farmers’ critical role in achieving the country’s genuine food security and food sovereignty” said farmer woman-leader Luz Gomonit of MASIPAG Mindanao
Founded in 1985, the MASIPAG network was the result of the Bahanggunian Hinggil sa Isyu ng Bigas or BIGAS Conference- a three-day nation-wide consultation of rice farmers from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, scientists- particularly scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Banos and International Rice Research Institute, rural development workers, and key government officials during the onslaught of the Green Revolution also popularly known as MASAGANA 99. What led to MASIPAG’s creation were the farmers, scientists, and rural development workers united to once and for all break-away from the chemical and capital-intensive agriculture that MASAGANA 99 proliferated.
“Because of the culturally adapted technologies that we farmers and scientists have developed in MASIPAG, we were able to help our own communities in providing assistance and avenues for farmer-to-farmer exchange that allowed other farmers to be organically self-sustaining. I encourage people, especially my fellow farmers to continue practicing farmer-led agroecology because it has huge, sustainable and long-term benefits especially for the next generation” said farmer-leader Eric Campomayor of MASIPAG Mindanao
The anniversary celebration was attended by MASIPAG current and pioneer member scientists, farmers, and rural development workers who attended the BIGAS conference and as well as former Department of Agrarian Reform secretary Rafael Mariano, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Chairperson Danilo Ramos, and UPLB Agricultural Systems professor Dr. Blesilda Calub. Moreover, MASIPAG farmer members also installed booths to sell their farm-produced products as well as a photo exhibit showcasing MASIPAG’s rich history during the said activity.
Carrying the principles and practices of farmer-led agroecology, for the last 38 years, MASIPAG has been at the forefront of farmer-empowerment, food sovereignty, and genuine rural development through its programs.
“As a farmer-trainer myself of MASIPAG, there is no greater feeling than being able to teach and at the same time learn with my fellow farmers especially while everyone is carrying the mission and vision of MASIPAG. MASIPAG farmers, scientists, and member NGOs have achieved so much in the past 38 years and will definitely achieve more in the coming years- towards a truly pro Filipino food system and agriculture!” share farmer-leader Rodolfo Cortez of MASIPAG Visayas