A multisectoral group on Wednesday urged the government to support local food production and empower small farmers and fisherfolks to build the country’s food system “in a time of pandemic and worsening hunger.”
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), one of the conveners of the Agroecology eXchange (AgroecologyX), said that the Filipinos’ lack of control over their own food system made them dependent on the cash assistance from the government during the height of the pandemic.
“Without control over their food system, Filipinos were made to rely on the cash assistance from the government which left out many families, condemning them to hunger while living in fear of the pandemic,” the KMP said.
Conveners and founding members of AgroecologyX held a press conference to announce the launch of “SALU-SALO: National People’s Food Systems Summit,” which is the alternative and “pro-people” summit to the United Nations’ World Food Systems Summit in 2021.
The group highlighted the importance of developing a people-centered Philippine food system that will respond to the “socioeconomic, political, cultural, and environmental conditions” of the Filipinos.
“This is a stark contrast against the current corporate-dominated, import-dependent, and anti-poor food system, which the United Nation promises to ‘fix’ in the World Food Systems Summit in 2021,” the group said.
Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT), one of the proponents of the AgroecologyX, said that the presence of agro-industrial and multinational businesses in the food production industry “has greatly eroded sustainable and cultural practices in our food systems.”
It also assailed multinational businesses that dominate the consumption and distribution sectors.
“We need to regain and revive a community-led, environmentally and economically balanced production, consumption, and food distribution activities. It is imperative that governmental food policies should focus on supporting workable and proven food production approaches by small farmers and fisherfolks. It is high time to bring these into the frontlines,” SIBAT said.
It added that it is not just the livelihood of the farmers and fisherfolks that was deeply impacted by corporate-centered policies. Consumers also stand to lose because of the dangers related to the current food system.
“This means saying no not only to the highly chemical and artificial farm inputs detrimental to the soil and the people’s health, but also to all policies that prevent Philippine agriculture from flourishing into the nation’s giver of food and material for development,” consumers network Samahan at Ugnayan ng mga Konsyumer para sa Ikauunlad ng Bayan (SUKI) said.
“This means saying yes to Filipinos’ indigenous, traditional ways of farming, while improving food and agricultural programs towards being ecologically sound, scientific, and sustainable conduits of progress,” it added.
Farmer-scientist network Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) also joined the call to “make agroecology our new normal.”
The network also said that as a holistic approach, agroecology will ensure a “just, sustainable, resilient, and people-centered agricultural systems” that will lead to food sovereignty and ensure the rights of people to access safe and nutritious food. (Raymund Antonio)
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