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PRESS RELEASE | Multisectoral Effort for “Pro-People” Food Systems Summit, Launched

Convenors of Agroecology eXchange (AgroecologyX) held a press conference announcing the launch of “SALU-SALO: National People’s Food Systems Summit” 9 AM today October 14 at SIKAT Studios, Tomas Morato.

Maintaining COVID-19 prevention measures, panelists were able to lay out the current crisis in the food and agricultural system as well as present the practice of agroecology in self-sustaining communities. Panelists were Ka Paeng Mariano of KMP, Catarina Estavillo of Bantay Bigas and Cris Panerio of MASIPAG. Rudy Corro of RUM was also able to react to the speeches, and a recorded message from Senator Kiko Pangilinan was shown.

Pegged as the alternative, pro-people summit, AgroecologyX’s SALU-SALO 2021 aims to be the culmination of a year-long campaign to build the food system needed by the Filipino people in time of a pandemic and worsening hunger. The proponents envision a people-centered Philippine food system developed from and responsive to the socioeconomic, political, cultural, and environmental conditions of the Filipino people.

This is a stark contrast against the current corporate-dominated, import-dependent and anti-poor food system, which the United Nation promises to “fix” in the World Food Systems Summit in 2021.

Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT) assailed the domination of agro-industrial and multinational businesses in the current food production, consumption and distribution that “has greatly eroded sustainable and cultural practices in our food systems.” The organization said in a statement, “We need to regain and revive a community-led, environmentally and economically balanced production, consumption and food distribution activities. It is imperative that governmental food policies should focus on supporting workable and proven food production approaches by small farmers and fisherfolks. It is high time to bring these into the frontlines.”

Consumers network Samahan at Ugnayan ng mga Konsyumer para sa Ikauunlad ng Bayan (SUKI) exposed the dangers of the current food system to consumers, saying “The corporate onslaught on agriculture and on Filipino producers and consumers also has to be thwarted for local production systems to break free from big business and foreign profit-driven objectives. This means saying no not only to the highly chemical and artificial farm inputs detrimental to the soil and the people’s health, but also to all policies that prevent Philippine agriculture from flourishing into the nation’s giver of food and material for development. This means saying yes to Filipinos’ indigenous, traditional ways of farming, while improving food and agricultural programs towards being ecologically sound, scientific and sustainable conduits of progress.”

The food system here in the Philippines remains to be “at the mercy of monopoly capitalism,” according to Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). KMP condemned the government response to the pandemic that added burden to the Filipino people. “Without control over their food system, Filipinos were made to rely on the cash assistance from the government which left out many families, condemning them to hunger while living in fear of the pandemic,” the group added.

Farmer-scientist network MASIPAG (Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura) calls to “make agroecology our new normal.” This is in response to the government policies in the food production and supply chain amid COVID-19 pandemic. The network also noted, “Agroecology as a holistic approach in ensuring just, sustainable, resilient and people-centered agricultural systems, a path towards food sovereignty and the rights of people to food.” ###

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