Quezon City, Civil society groups jointly called for the government on Tuesday March 3, 2015, to support a shift towards climate resilient ecological agriculture and embrace solutions that will reduce the nation’s vulnerability by ensuring food and nutrition security across the Philippines.
The group composed of women’s, consumer rights and environmental organizations said the Philippines, faced with climate change and worsening extreme weather impacts, needs to take urgent measures to adapt and ensure food production is sustainable and does not harm the environment.
This is why women farmers are already choosing ecological agriculture, which works in harmony with nature, over chemical-reliant conventional agriculture methods, said Monina Geaga of Kasarian-Kalayaan, Inc. (SARILAYA).
“The use of chemical and synthetic fertilizers poses health risks to farmers and society in general. These chemicals are harmful to the environment and produce food that is neither safe nor healthy. We do not want to contribute to the degradation of our environment and we want to ensure that the food we serve to our families and even those we sell are safe and healthy,” Geaga said.
Ahead of World Consumer Rights Day on March 15, which carries a theme focused on the right to healthy food, Dr. Angelina Galang of the Consumer Rights for Safe Food said the government should not only respect people’s right to healthy food but also encourage them to exercise it.
“Consumers must have access to full information about healthy, sustainable food on the one hand and unhealthy, not environmentally-friendly produced food on the other. Furthermore, they should be able to exercise their right to choose between the two with proper labeling of food that people are wary of, like chemically grown and/or genetically modified food.”
The all-women panel also shared stories proving the availability of healthy and nutritious food choices even during climate disasters, such as the MINGO Meals produced by Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation, Inc. (NVCF). MINGO Meals are a powdered combination of Malungay and Mungo beans that turns into porridge when mixed with water.
“We have proven that it is not difficult to make nutritious food readily available every day or even in times of disasters. Our MINGO meals have been tried and tested. We have it distributed in areas severely affected by typhoons Ruby and Yolanda helping children and families in need,” NVCF spokesperson Camille Genuino said.
ARUGAAN, a group of women advocating the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding, also talked about how they provided breast milk to communities impacted by Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013. Children two years and older were given breast milk combined with fruits and vegetables.
“We wanted to show that children can still be given proper nutrition even during calamities. Women should be supplied with knowledge on how they can still provide micronutrient indigenous food for the family even during disasters,” Tinay Alterado said.
While some solutions are already available, the groups also stressed that the Philippines needs to climate proof its food and agriculture system to ensure future food and nutrition security.
“Our country is in desperate need of resilient agriculture that conserves and utilizes farm diversity, promotes food diversity and ensures food and nutrition security. Ecological agriculture is a climate resilient farming method that provides a system-wide solution in uncertain times of climate change,” said Amalie Obusan, Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines Director.
“Our food and agriculture system is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Extreme weather events can rapidly destroy vast tracts of food crops, leading to reduced supply, hunger and higher prices. That impacts everyone. This is why our agriculture needs to adapt and become more resilient.”
Ecological Agriculture is a farming system that works in harmony with nature. It taps into ecological and natural processes to produce food. It is the solution to food and nutrition security in uncertain times of climate change.