8 out of 10 Filipinos will go for Pres’l bet with food and agriculture

Nearly eight out of 10, or 76 per cent of 1200 respondents will vote for candidates whose platforms include ensuring food sufficiency and addressing farmers’ needs, reveals results from the Social Weather Station (SWS) 2015 3rd Quarter Social Weather Survey, in the items commissioned by environmental group Greenpeace Philippines.

The nationwide survey, conducted from September 2-5, 2015, also showed that 75 per cent of the respondents prefer presidential candidates who will ensure that food needs are met and 70 per cent would support candidates who will promote environment-friendly farming.

Moreover, 44 per cent of the survey respondents entreated the government to focus on financial support to farmers to make farming climate resilient while 39% expressed support for ecological agriculture such as organic farming.

“Agriculture, specifically Ecological Agriculture, has taken a back seat in terms of government prioritization. We have the Organic Agriculture Act but actual implementation and government support has to improve tremendously. Our presidential candidates should take these survey results seriously, as these show how concerned Filipinos are with our current food and agriculture systems,” said Vigie Benosa-Llorin, Food and Ecological Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace Philippines.

Ecological Agriculture, which includes organic farming, is a climate resilient farming system that will address the issue of food security concerns. It is a farming system that combines modern science and innovation with respect for nature and biodiversity, and ensures healthy farming and food production while protecting the soil, water and the climate. Ecological agriculture does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or use genetically engineered crops.

“We challenge our Presidential candidates to clearly state how he/she will support the farmers, address issues on food sufficiency, and make farming climate resilient and environment-friendly. While each candidate may have their own lines about agriculture, the voters are looking and demanding for more than mere rhetoric, but rather real programs and policies towards safe, healthy and sustainable food and agriculture systems that respond to the continuing plight of Filipino farmers, the majority of whom continue to reel from mass poverty, hunger and destitution,” added Benosa-Llorin.

On the other hand, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) laments the poor state of agriculture in the Philippines, and calls on the government to stop supporting chemical-based and corporate agriculture and instead develop policies that will help farmers through the promotion of Ecological Agriculture.

“In recent decades, the promotion of agricultural liberalization and corporatization has also intensified the condition where toxic chemicals and engineered organisms bear down on the Filipino farmers and consumers and their efforts to promote socially-desirable practices including organic, sustainable and ecological agriculture,” said Rafael Mariano of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. “In fact, the Philippine government has generally negated the objectives of sustainable and ecological agriculture as it continues to promote an overall policy of chemical farming that is founded on rural monopolies in land, income, wealth and power.”

In a landmark decision from the Supreme Court released last December 2015, the high court barred the field testing of Bt eggplant and placed a temporary ban on the development of genetically modified organisms (GMO)s. Greenpeace sees this an opportune time for the next president to lead the country away from conventional agriculture and to shift to Ecological Agriculture.

The Philippine weather and climate agency Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) also announced that the Philippines will experience the full impact of the prevailing strong El Nino phenomenon’s peak intensity during the first semester of 2016, which is expected to usher in drought and dry spell conditions from below-normal rainfall and warmer-than-normal air temperature.

“With the Supreme Court decision in place and the effects of El Nino threatening the agriculture sector and thus, our food sufficiency, now is the time for the Philippine government - especially for the next president - to look into appropriate, innovative, climate-resilient, environment-friendly and science-based farming, which is what Ecological Agriculture is,” concludes Benosa-Llorin.

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