This initiative is a longstanding, farmer-led network of civil society organizations, NGOs, and scientists in the Philippines. It reaches about 35,000 farmer members in 3 regional zones of the Philippines. The goals are to sustainably manage biodiversity through farmer-controlled seeds and biological resources, agricultural production, and associated knowledge. MASIPAG was created to break the control of local and multinational fertilizer and pesticide companies, multilateral rice research institutes, and rice distribution cartels. To improve the quality of life of small farmers, the initiative takes a holistic approach to development, community empowerment, and people’s control of agricultural biodiversity.
MASIPAG’s approach to empower farmers in breeding their own local rice varieties and to collaborate with academic sectors uses the following interactions: bottom-up decision–making, planning, and implementation; farmer–scientist partnerships; farmer-led research; farmer–to–farmer mode of diffusion in training; and advocacy on farmers’ rights issues. The results of the initiative’s research calls for governments to support sustainable agriculture for better food security, better health, and better income outcomes, all while offering the potential to reduce climate change emissions from agriculture.
The national coordinator of MASIPAG, Cris Panerio, told a story of a typhoon that hit a community in Nueva Ecija. The typhoon destroyed all of the rice crops in the community except for one that was grown by a farmer who had propagated his own variety of rice. That particular farmer had also been farming organically for over 10 years. Similarly, in nearby communities, other organic farmers also had a good harvest, while crops grown by conventional farmers had been destroyed.