Seeds in farmers’ hands: escaping poverty through diversity and local knowledge
One of the outcomes of the much-lauded “Green Revolution” is that farmers in countries like the #Philippines have fallen into debt. Farmers needed to take out loans to buy the high-yielding crop varieties, and the chemical fertiliser and pesticides the plants needed.
To escape the debt trap, farmers, scientists and NGOs joined forces in the 1980s and founded MASIPAG. They collected and maintained more than 1,300 traditional rice varieties and bred 1,288 new MASIPAG rice varieties which are specifically adapted to local soils and climate conditions.
“International agricultural research is dominated by multinational companies. At MASIPAG, the farmers have regained control over their most important resource: seeds”, says Manny Yap, former coordinator of MASIPAG.
A recent study found that MASIPAG rice can keep up with high-yielding varieties without the need for pesticides. Since the farmers are largely independent from external inputs and as the great variety of products they cultivate enables them to compensate for crop failures, they are able to increase their income and earn more than the conventional farms.
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