As networks and groups advocating agroecology gather today for the Salu-Salu 2021, Pagkain para sa Lahat Agroecology Festival in Quezon City, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said farmers and advocates must work doubly hard toward the promotion of sustainable and self-sufficient agriculture and farming that doesn’t rely on expensive and privatized seeds, seedlings, and chemical inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides developed and distributed by multinational corporations.
“Decades of hybrid and conventional farming have made our farmers poorer than ever. They are always indebted and at the mercy of usury loansharks, landlords, and traders in the countryside. Farmers are toiling and doing backbreaking farm work to pay for their lifelong debts. Whatever is left from their harvest will go to their family’s consumption or selling for additional income. This is the cycle of farming in the Philippines,” says Danilo Ramos, chairperson of KMP.
“Several months under the pandemic and lockdowns have further exposed the weaknesses of the current agriculture system. We have seen tons of harvested crops either being dumped and destroyed despite the glaring lack of food among the population. The evident disconnect between rural and urban, the supermarketization of food, and the liberalization of agriculture, among others, has led to millions of people suffering from hunger, malnutrition, and food insecurity. Worse, farmers are deprived of decent incomes and the environment is slowly being destroyed as a result of the current agriculture systems.”
“However, the pandemic has also turned the people’s attention to the paramount importance of food, agriculture, and genuine land reform. The right to food and demand for farmers’ control over agriculture are now being promoted in creative ways. Despite the new appreciation for the right food and sustainable agriculture, the government and policy-makers are still focusing on the ‘normalcy’ of conventional agriculture and importation as a means to make the Philippines food self-sufficient,” Ramos said.
“As food security front liners, farmers must take control over farming, agriculture and food production. We want a food system that will help ensure that everyone has food on the table. To do this, we must do away with the liberalization of agriculture and farming,” the peasant leader said.
KMP said it supports agroecology and sustainable agriculture as a holistic approach in ensuring just, sustainable, resilient, and people-centered agricultural systems.
“Agroecology must be the starting path towards food sovereignty and people’s right to food. Alongside this, genuine land reform and free land distribution must be achieved to emancipate our farmers from centuries-old of bondage to the soil.”
“Agroecology is not just about principles and practices related to promoting the sustainability and resilience of food and farming systems. It is also also a valid and scientific research approach and a socio-political movement to seek new ways of food production, processing, distribution, and consumption that is not profit-oriented and based on anarchic production,” Ramos said.
“We must make sustainable agriculture and agroecology the new normal. Agroecology responds to the demand for food sovereignty. It gives importance to the environment and agrobiodiversity, it integrates science and ecological principles with knowledge and practices of farmers and indigenous peoples. It gives priority to local production to be able to respond to local needs and puts farmers first on the agenda. Agroecology places farmers and the people’s right to food at the center of policies, and the people as active participants in the attainment of their right to food. We encourage policymakers and the public to support agroecology,” Ramos concluded.
The Agroecology Festival is part of the year-long SALU-SALO: People’s Food Systems Summit 2021, a counterpoint to the Food Systems Summit organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).