PNFSP showcases Best Practices; Trade Fair

The conference was well-attended by PNFSP’s member-organizations nationwide, progressive organizations, and representatives of government agencies. The two-day event dealt with the numerous issues concerning food insecurity and showcased the programs and projects of the members.

The first day had Rep. Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano of Anakpawis Partylist open with the Keynote Speech tackling the situation of the agricultural sector, the ways to achieve a genuine agrarian reform in order to improve the overall condition of the sector, which will eventually lead to the Philippines’ national industrialization.

Two case presentations on food insecurity followed Ka Paeng’s speech. Ms. Cita Maguelod, Executive Director of SENTRA-CV (Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo – Cagayan Valley) talked about the biofuel plantation in San Mariano, Isabela and how it gravely affects the lives and livelihoods of the farmers and the people. According to Maguelod, “Farmers lose effective control of their communities’ major production system and major resource base to corporate entities. Farmers’ control over the land, farming practices and technology will be lost as farmers who previously owned lands will be reduced to being farm workers.”

The second was presented by Mr. Danilo Gumanao, Deputy Executive Director of MISFI (Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation) about the massive mining operations happening in Mindanao. Based on MGB data, more than half of the estimated mineral wealth of the country is found in Mindanao, amounting to $12.6 billion. The large-scale mining activities will greatly affect the lumad communities (indigenous people), agricultural sector and the environment. “The lumads will lose their ancestral lands and be forced to live in the towns and cities to become the poorest of the poor. In the cities, they will be forced to eke out a living far from what they have been used to. They will add up to the growing number of beggars and slum dwellers. They would be forced to set aside their culture and lose their identity as an indigenous people.” said Gumanao.

Representatives from government agencies were likewise given the chance to reply to the presentations. Engr. Leo Jasareno, Director of Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) defended the new mining policy of Pres. Aquino.

Undersecretary Joel Rudinas of the Department of Agriculture (DA), meanwhile, agreed that organic products are beneficial to the farmers and said that the DA is also advocating its practice.

A workshop was then conducted to enumerate the different activities– programs, projects, services, and campaigns done by the different organizations to make each one aware of what they can further do to help in the issues concerning food security. A representative from each group – National, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao presented the outcome of their workshops.

The second day began with an opening statement from Ms. Jhana Tejome, Executive Director of PNFSP, on the NGO-PO initiatives. After that, some members gave a short discussion on their best practices on sustainable agriculture and appropriate technology, which will hopefully serve as models for other organizations in their mission of addressing food insecurity for the rural poor, especially the peasants.

Ms. Julie Mero, Advocacy Officer of CDPC (Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera) talked about their organic farming, particularly their Rice Intensification Program and its benefits to the farmers and also the environment. For CDPC, rice production must be intensified with the goal of attaining rice sufficiency by increasing the yield per unit area. On the other hand, organic farming is done through “the promotion of the use of organic fertilizers, enhancing the traditional farming practices, while preserving the natural resource base.” adds Mero.

“Advocacy marketing” was then explained extensively by Ms. Estrella Catarata, Executive Director of FARDEC (Farmers Development Center).

Ms. Marife Magbanua, Executive Director of ALCADEV (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development) talked about how they successfully incorporated teaching sustainable agriculture in a school setting. She presented a short documentary showing the school grounds and interviews of students.

PNFSP’s micro-irrigation project in Isabela was then discussed by Mr. Samuel Mateo of Bigao Farmers Association.

Lastly, the indigenous knowledge system was presented by Mr. Tyrone Beyer, Policy Advocacy Officer of TFIP Task Force on Indigenous People). He introduced the Holok, an indigenous pest management system used in Ifugao which uses certain types of plants with pesticidal properties. Meanwhile, the Lampisa is an indigenous system of irrigation water distribution. According to Beyer, “the system has survived decades of challenges and had triumphed over individualism, kinship favoritism and political pressures while promoting communal ownership and use of a basic resource, the precious water.”

Solidarity messages were also given by New World Belgium and Action Solidarite Tiers Monde (ASTM), both funders of PNFSP.

PNFSP’s 5th National Thematic Conference was indeed a tremendous success. It brought together its member organizations who earnestly fight to uphold food security in their regions and government officials to make them accountable to the people regarding issues that exacerbate food insecurity.

Best practices were also hailed and served as models to other members and progressive organizations and individuals.

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