PKKK joined the Rice Watch Action Network in its Farmers-Fishers Congress held on May 14, Friday. The whole-day event was conducted in Zoom. Numerous organizations joined the Congress. Preparations were held a week before on Zoom with the partner organizations all around the nation to discuss the specific issues that each sector faces and the specific calls each sector will make.
PKKK joined the Women and IPs sector.
The Congress allowed the Farmers-Fishers sector in creating a unity statement, seen below, signed by 97 organizations.
Unity Statement on Saving the Plunging Livelihoods of Filipino Farmers and Fisherfolks And Addressing the Critical Situation of Philippine Agriculture and Food Security
May 14, 2021, Quezon City
We, Filipino farmers and fisherfolks across sectors have long been suffering from the pains of poverty and hunger and loss of livelihoods, aggravated not just by Covid19 but by years of intergenerational neglect from the government. In the 2018 official census of the government, farmers, fisherfolks, individuals and children residing in the rural areas posted the highest poverty incidences. This is not new as these are the same sectors who also registered with the highest poverty incidences in 2015; and the same trend is true even up to 50 years ago. Age-old problems in the agricultural sector have remained because the diagnosis of the problem and the interventions did not change the unfavorable system to farmers and fisherfolks—mostly addressing the supply in the market while poorly addressing the development of local producers. What should have been a regulated importation of food became a policy of unbridled import liberalization.
The high priests of trade liberalization are always quick to point out that importing food is more economically sound: a worn-out ideology that treats economics as a simple problem of supply and demand and not sensitive to emancipation and sustainable development; a simple remedy of finding what is cheap and what is not. Worse, government decisions have ignored farmers and fisherfolks as large sums or people’s money are allocated to the intelligence fund. Meanwhile, we, farmers and fisherfolks cry desperately, in need of assistance.
The cost of producing food is high because of lack of vision and programs to develop the local agriculture and fisheries sector. Evidently, the current state of production is caused by weak management and conservation of the very resources that sustain agri-fish livelihoods, as if nature or ecosystems services will provide for unending bounty. Meanwhile, agricultural products entering the Philippine ports competing with our local products are highly subsidized by their respective governments. While there are agencies tasked to provide some form of subsidies to farmers and fisherfolks, the programs for the most part are not really addressing our actual needs. In many instances, funds were sadly sucked up by corruption. By continuing to do this, the current administration is virtually putting a death sentence to our local agriculture and fisheries industry.
Farmers and fisherfolks demand a stop to this madness. Nearing the end of another six-year presidential term, the government has not done enough to arrest income losses due to poorly-identified and inappropriate support programs. The food producers’ interests are not in conflict with the consumers’ interests as the farmers and fishers are consumers themselves. As the producers of food, we minimally reap the benefits of hard work; most of the gains are captured by middlemen, wholesalers and importers, especially those unscrupulous traders, who are to a large extent responsible for the high cost of consumer goods. This is exacerbated by the failure of the government to provide for the necessary post-harvest infrastructure that will facilitate the transfer of goods from producers to consumers at least cost, and its continued inability to curtail speculation, manipulation and oligopolistic control of local markets.
If we cannot sell the food we produce for profit, many of us will just give up farming and fishing and much of the rural and coastal areas will become an unproductive wilderness where impoverishment and hunger will be a common sight.
A good quality of life, food and nutrition security, and food self-sufficiency should not be treated as separate endeavours.
The impact of changing climate and continued loss of agriculture biodiversity is gravely threatening domestic and global food production. Hence the Philippines should maintain and even improve its capacity to produce its own staple food, without necessarily shunning-away agricultural products from other countries.
Lastly, the current government’s ambiguous stance on foreign incursion in the country’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea threatens the food and livelihood security of its own people and for the generations to come; not to mention the potential vast resource of energy. The area of West Philippine Sea which includes the Julian Felipe Reef that China’s fishing boats have been illegally entering provides a third of the country’s supply of marine fish. These illegal incursions have also destroyed coral reefs, threatening the delicate balance of marine biodiversity in the area. The government should exhaust all diplomatic means to assert the country’s preeminence in its territorial waters, and protect the Filipino fishers in their own traditional fishing grounds.
Today, after collective discussions among different agriculture and fisheries sectors, including indigenous peoples and women farmers, we collectively demand the urgency for the government to adopt and implement the following:
- Rehabilitate the agricultural sector and uphold the rights and importance of smallholder producers, the farmers and fisherfolks, in the country’s development;
- Demand a review of all policies that perpetuate uncompetitive trade and market environments for local producers and hold accountable those officials responsible for pushing liberalization that is debilitating the agricultural sector;
- Strengthen unity among farmers at the community level to provide assistance and work together with different communities, strongly linking the farmers and fisherfolks in agricultural sub-sectors and the agricultural sector as a whole. This strong representation of farmers, fisherfolks, and all the agriculture and fisheries stakeholders should take part in government decision-making processes for the advancement of development in the rural areas;
- The sector needs a Secretary of the Department of Agriculture who truly listens, acts and champions the rights of Filipino farmers and fisherfolks even in the face of discord with other Cabinet officials; an Agriculture Secretary with concrete strategic vision for sustainable and ecological agriculture and fisheries, and promoting genuine rural development.
- A Department of Agriculture with the heart and guts to protect Filipino farmers and fisherfolks and invoke all available trade and policy remedies when needed, to go after smugglers and correct the damage, up to the point of repealing the law as appropriate and providing emergency support to assist the suffering farmers and fishers and their families;
- A Department of Agriculture in support of farmers’ and fisherfolks’ capabilities and makes use of credible science, appropriate benchmarks and data in policy and program formulation, monitoring and evaluation; an Agriculture agency that promotes relevant, appropriate, beneficial and inclusive policy for the sector, starting with the right data, and credible data gathering methodologies;
- Appropriate, relevant and sufficient support for the sector, including social protection measures such as the current Social Amelioration Programs (SAP) which are not covering many of farmers and fisherfolks—to include longer-term programs such as rural housing/settlement program particularly for fisherfolks and rural communities in hazard prone areas, and a pro-active effort to reach out to marginalized and poor Filipino farmers, including women, youth, elderly and IP farmers;
- For the government to exercise its regulatory powers, and ensure that food production is protected; appropriate benefits are given to small farmers, marginalized groups, and even consumers as a whole; and putting a stop to corruption in the agency and other related offices;
- In the face of COVID impacts, we need a strong government that intimately understands agriculture and fisheries’ seasonal production and biological capacities and vulnerabilities of our farmers and fisherfolks;
- Actively brings together beneficial and fair value chain processes that link local farmers’ produce to markets in a sustainable manner to protect whatever incomes are left of rural farming households, and will ensure poor consumers’ access to food;
- Complete the distribution of land to landless farmers, particularly in private agricultural land, through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, and secure the land ownership of agrarian reform beneficiaries through access to credit and delivery of support services for sustainable farm productivity.
- A shift to environmentally nurturing farm and fish production systems supported by a robust research and development program, to study and find solutions to the increasing incidence of pest and diseases, and ensure sustainable livelihoods even in the face of climate change and related challenges;
- In preparation for the Mandanas’ ruling implementation in the 2022 budget, ensure that local governments have the support and capacity to come up with comprehensive and strategic agriculture and fisheries plans, covering holistic and environmentally-sound, and healthy food systems, and to implement programs judiciously and effectively;
- Promote and institutionalize effective and robust civil society’s, farmers’ and fisherfolks’, women, youth, IP and elderly’s participation in governance, from the barangay level to the national level, including in local agriculture planning and program implementation;
- A government that defends its people from foreign incursions in its exclusive economic zone, while protecting the rights and safety of coastal communities affected by the continuing conflict in the West Philippine Sea.
In support of the foregoing, we affix the names of our organizations below. Done in Quezon City, May 14, 2021.
- Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura,
- Alyansa Agrikultura,
- Anak Bayan Nueva Ecija,
- BACFA MP,
- BIGKIS ng Mangingisda Zambales and Pangasinan,
- Center for Agrarian Reform, Empowerment and Transformation (CARET),
- Center for Disaster Preparedness,
- Climate Change Congress of the Philippines,
- Federation of Climate Resilient Farmers of Gerona,
- Federation of Free Farmers,
- Golden Parauma Agriculture Cooperative (GPAC),
- Irrigators Association (Alegria and Labuo North Cotabato,
- KAANIB II,
- Kabyawenyo Dugtong Buhay Agriculture Cooperative,
- Kananga Leyte Farmers Federation,
- Kilusan para sa Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (KATARUNGAN),
- KATARUNGAN LEYTE,
- KATARUNGAN EASTERN SAMAR,
- KATARUNGAN PAMPANGA,
- Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative,
- Magsasaka partylist,
- Negros Farmers Council,
- LARB FA,
- Nueva Vizcaya State University,
- Old paguiruan,farmers association,
- ORMOC KANANGA LEYTE FARMERS FEDERATION,
- Pagasa ng Mamamayang Nagkakaisa Transport Service and Multi- Purpose Cooperative ( PAMANA),
- Philippine Rural Recontsruction Movement
- Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement Baao Cam Sur,
- Pambansang Kilisan ng Kababihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK),
- PKKK- Bataan,
- PKKK- Ragay Cam Sur,
- PKKK, Misamis Oreintal,
- PKKK- Isabela,
- PKKK- Nueva Ecija,
- PKKK- Negros Oriental,
- PKKK- Rizal,
- Philmaize-Isabela chapter,
- Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan PKSK,
- Philmaize- Cagayan de Oro,
- Philmaize Cebu,
- Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines,
- PORK PRODUCERS- Laguna Chapter,
- PORK PRODUCERS Camarines Sur,
- PORK PRODUCERS Cebu,
- PORK PRODUCERS – Bulacan,
- PORK PRODUCERS – Bukidnon,
- SRI PILIPINAS,
- SL Vallehermoso,
- SALUFA Eastern Samar,
- SABALO Camarines Sur,
- Sto. Domingo Farmers Association,
- Tambuyog Development Center,
- TAO-Kalikasan Foundation of the Philippines,
- United Broilers Raisers Association (UBRA),
- WISBA- Women’s Integrated Society of Bayawan,
- Living Laudato Si,
- Integrated Rural Development Foundation,
- Fair Trade Alliance,
- Freedom From Debt Coalition
- Focus on the GLobal South,
- Project Development Institute,
- Sumpay Mindanao, Inc,
- Lanao Aquatic and Marine Fisheries Center for Community Development (LAFCCOD),
- Agro-Eco Federation of Lanao,
- Rice Watch Action Network,
- OXFAM Pilipinas,
- Convergence of NGOs/Pos in Zamboanga del Sur for Agrarain Reform and Rural Development),
- Central Visayas PorklProducers Association
- Pambangsang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid ,
- Koalisyon sa Karapatan sa sapat ng Pagkain (National Food Coalition),
- MPL Bataan Chapter,
- Kilusang Maralita sa Kanayunan (KILOSKA) ,
- Self-Help Approach and Rights Based Environment inc ( SHARE Inc)
- LGU Arakan
- PATAMABA-Workers in the Informal Sector Enterprise (WISE)
- Marketing Association of Groups and Individuals in the Small Scale Industries(MAGISSI)
- Camarines Norte Federation of Cooperatives (CANOFECO)
- Iloilo CODE NGO
- Filipino Farmers Seed Network (FFSN) Inc
- Kidapawan Organic Practitioners and Producers Association (KOPPA)
- North Cotabato Rural Integrated Social Entrepreneurs Association
- Pambansang Samahan ng mga Magbubukid Para sa Likas-Kayang Pananakahan(SAKAHAN)
- Womanhealth Philippines
- DIGNIDAD Movement
- PESANTE Pilipinas
- Partnership Mission for People’s Initiatives (PMPI)