Are farmers really just passive recipients of corporate-led science and technologies?

July 5, 2023

by MASIPAG National Office

During a quick break of Masipag Luzon‘s Leaders’ forum, MASIPAG farmers Tay Elmer of Nueva Vizcaya, Tay Merto of Bicol, and Tay Leody of Nueva Ecija relaxingly yet thoroughly discuss their observations on the traditional, farmer-bred, and MASIPAG rice varieties that they have been monitoring and conserving in their respective trial farms – discussing about the rate of growth, height, pest and climate change resiliency and even the taste of some of the 50 rice varieties that they conserve, monitor, and use for sustenance and livelihood in their farms.

Since MASIPAG’s creation in 1985, MASIPAG farmers pride themselves in discovering (through farmer-led breeding) and conserving rice varieties that the Green revolution almost erased during the 1960s. Harrowingly, extensive interviews in 1992 conducted by David Frossard revealed that International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) crop scientists during the Green Revolution reinforced the notion that farmers are often seen there as peripheral to the actual business of seed development. Worse, government extension agents at that time who are the implementors of MASAGANA 99 even burned the farmers’ stocks of traditional and indigenous seeds deeming it as inferior to IRRI’ so-called “miracle seeds”.

Farmer women leader Nay Quiling of MASIPAG Mindanao documenting the different farmer-bred, MASIPAG, and traditional rice varieties that her organization are conserving in their trial farm

Up to this day, MASIPAG farmers have already collected and bred more than 2180 rice varieties under the context and specific needs of their respective communities, with almost a hundred of the varieties already having promising yields and resiliency to the effects of climate change. In return, MASIPAG farmers are able to achieve local food security and ultimately allow themselves to breakaway from the prejudices that seed corporations and socially detached research institutions proliferated during the Green revolution and still keep on proliferating until today.