Earlier this week our network Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa pag-unlad ng Agrikultura’s Mindanao branch (MASIPAG Mindanao) successfully concluded its 13th Regional Assembly at the Lantaw Bukid Farm Resort in Tugbok District, Davao City.

Around a hundred farmers, scientists, non-government organizations and local government units gathered in the assembly.

The assembly was formally opened by a Lumad ritual panubatubad, while our Moro and Christian brothers and sisters offered their respective prayers. The assembly also showcased photos and various crops from the farmers in Mindanao. Climate resilient crops were included in the exhibit, so a cooking demonstration by Masipag members and National Organic Agriculture Congress Cook-fest grand champions were showcased.

It is also an honor for MASIPAG-Mindanao to have Neth Danoof ETC Group and Ana Bibal of Stop Golden Rice Asia Network to share their views on the current trends in global agriculture. Dano’s presentation highlighted the relevance of MASIPAG amidst the global capitalist system of corporate agriculture and monopoly in agriculture and food technologies. Bibal, on the other hand, shared the continuing devastation caused by corporate interest not just in the environment but also at the core of agriculture: people’s culture. Clearly, there is no better alternative to the dehumanizing corporate control in agriculture but only through grassroots organizing in developing sustainable alternatives to which MASIPAG is known for.

MASIPAG’s solidarity night started with a tribute for MASIPAG farmers and leaders who dedicated their time and life in the service of the resource-poor farmers in Mindanao. The tradition of seed exchange among Masipag farmers was also a part of the solidarity night. Various cultural performances were graced by the ever-active Masipag members. Masipag farmers also supported for the national call to confirm Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as DAR secretary.

MASIPAG National Coordinator Cris Panerio shared the organizational situation and developments of the MASIPAG network in its more than thirty years of leading the national organic agriculture movement in this country. Despite of its limited resources, apart from the organizational challenges MASIPAG encountered in Mindanao since 2015, this regional assembly was unprecedented in terms of quantitative and qualitative successes.

In a period of a year and a half, MASIPAG Mindanao reached the east coasts of Surigao provinces to the west coasts of Zamboanga provinces while consolidating its core in the Davao and the greater Cotabato regions. It has established two Provincial Coordinating Bodies (PCBs). MASIPAG Mindanao was also successful in expanding in Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

MASIPAG Mindanao’s membership rose from 48 people’s organizations (PO) in its re-establishment in 2015 to 86 POs this early half of 2017 with 46 regular members, 26 associate members and 13 newly expanded POs. In terms of non-government organization and scientist membership there is an increase by 80 percent. Partnership with academe, local government units and even national government agencies have expanded.

We successfully established 18 PO-managed trial farms and 5 PO and partner-managed back-up farms that can be found in Davao City, Davao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, South Cotabato and Zamboanga del Sur.

MASIPAG Mindanao has been consistent in its advocacies especially in issues that confront resource-poor farmers like land, food and justice. MASIPAG Mindanao’s adherence to its core principles to uplift the aspirations of resource-poor farmers towards a just and human society yield these positive developments for the network.

The 13th Regional Assembly theme is best fitting to describe these successes and to achieve greater victories towards progress, indeed, huptan ang prinsipyo, hugton ang panaghiusa. Uswag MASIPAG Mindanao!

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