Position Statement from INOFO 4th April 2018 at Stop Golden Rice Network International Conference, Philippines

We, Organic Farmers from the Inter-Continental Network of Organic Farmers Organisation (INOFO), a self-organized structure within IFOAM who gives organic farmers a voice, inside the organic movement and outside towards the public and politic, oppose all GM crops in total including the Golden Rice. GMOs have been proven to negatively affect our health; additionally it puts high risk on the farmer ownership of seeds. Therefore as an international organization who support our healthy planet, we oppose any seeds that go against the sustainable growth of the planet. 

It is un-needed, un-safe and un-predictable technology. 

We do not need to spend enormous amount of money to create a Rice variety that has Vitamin A. Our organic farms are full of diversity of crops including different kinds of pumpkins, Papaya and other numerous fruits and leafy vegetables which give us our Vitamin A. 

Contamination from GM crops has proven time and again in many parts of the world and organic farmers continue to face the threat at various levels. The Golden Rice would contaminate our indigenous rich Rice diversity losing the different nutritional qualities and purity of our indigenous variety. Rice, as our staple food, plays a significant part of our culture and tradition. So unless it is proven safe for us and our environment, we continue to oppose Genetically Modified Crops.

Experiences from Green Revolution and GM crops have left organic farmers with no choice to grow their own indigenous varieties. We lose our right to seed, right to grow and right to live by increasing dependence on the external markets increasing the cost of production, indebtedness ultimately leading to suicides. Even under severe pressure we as Organic Farmers Organisations will continue to stand for the organic farmers who strive hard to provide poison-free, GM-free organically grown healthy food for our future generations to come.

We call upon the Philippine Government to heed the call of  farmers and consumers to reject Golden Rice commercialization in the country and uphold rights to safe, nutritious, diverse, organically sourced food.

* INOFO is a Network of like-minded Organic Farmer organisations, with the task to establish relationships between organic farmers organisation all over the world. These organisations can cooperate in pursuing their common objectives as they relate to food sovereignty in general and, in particular, to public policy and land rights, climatic adaptation, production standards and guarantee systems, marketing and pricing negotiations, participatory research, technical exchanges, education, seed sovereignty and other farmers concern, like  strengthen the peasant movement, especially for organic peasants.

INOFO at IFAD FAFO East and Southern Africa Regional Workshop

Joint statement made by FaFo and IFAD  by Julie Nakalanda Matovu & Charles K. Mubanga.

IFAD1’s commitment to fulfil its mandate of fostering rural development has taken on yet another strategic approach of engaging with farmer’s organizations for more effective smallholders’ development. The February 2016 FaFo2  meeting in Rome unanimously agreed to decentralize FaFo to regional levels in the different parts of the world for increased farmer representation, and participation in the development process under the IFAD programmes worldwide. INOFO3 soon after the onset of IFAD- INOFO project, which was implemented by IFOAM4, went to the polls and elected the 3rd INOFO Council, during the General Assembly in Istanbul in October 2014. The council applied for representation on the FaFo steering committee, during the Rome meeting, which was operating at global level, then, and were unconditionally accepted.  

Early 2017, the Global FAFO steering Committee, working closely with IFAD began the process of rolling out FAFO at Regional level. The INOFO council was contacted and elected Charles Mubanga from Zambia as the INOFO representatives on the ESA5 FAFO steering committee, deputized by Julie Nakalanda Matovu, from Uganda.

The major purpose of the meeting was to discuss and work out functional synergies between IFAD and FAFO at the regional and Country levels. On 20th to 23rd May 2017, 40 Farmers’ Leaders from 12 countries and 28 farmers’ organizations, representing millions of small-scale farmers, artisanal fishers, pastoralists met with IFAD ESA Division in Kampala, Uganda, for the First Regional Farmers’ Forum in Eastern and Southern Africa. 

The Regional Farmers’ Forum meeting was also attended on 22nd and 23rd of May by around 260 representatives from IFAD funded projects in 17 countries and staff from IFAD HQ. In fact, the Regional Farmers’ Forum was organized in conjunction with the IFAD Regional Implementation Workshop dedicated to the theme of Financial Inclusion for Rural Transformation that took place from 22nd to 25th May 2017. The four-day meeting was kick started by the first physical meeting of the Regional Steering Committee whose membership currently draws from ESAFF, EAFF, SACAU, INOFO, WFF, WFFP, WFO, La Via Campesina and IFAD.  

IFAD Regional ESA Division welcomes and supports the decentralization of the Farmers’ Forum process and takes it as a key accountability instrument for development effectiveness of the its supported investments in the region. The ESA FaFo Process is steered and monitored by the Regional Steering Committee. Together, the committee members agreed that the committee should be as representative as possible and include, in the near future, representatives of pastoralists from the region.

Key elements of the ESA IFAD-FOs6 Partnerships. ESA FAFO participants jointly decided to focus the collaboration in the region country by country and to articulate country-level action plans. The action plans have been developed during break-out sessions that brought together IFAD Country Teams, Project Coordinators; staff from IFAD funded Projects, and Farmers’ Representatives. Country level action plans were developed for 14 countries, namely for Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The action plans are attached and are an integral part of the joint IFAD/FOs commitment. Elements of the 14 country-level action plans comprise the following:    periodic consultations to monitor country level collaboration and for proposing corrective measures to improve cooperation between IFAD supported projects and FOs ;   support the development of country-level Farmers’ or Rural Producers’ Forums to foster dialogue between national government, FOs and development partners for sustainable rural development;  joint mapping of FOs at country level to explore ways of developing cooperation with IFAD Country Programmes;  Contracts between IFAD funded projects and Apex FOs in support of institutional development of local FOs.

This statement and the specific Country Action Plans were jointly developed by IFAD ESA Regional Division and Farmers’ Delegates and represent a joint commitment that will guide IFAD/FOs country level partnerships between Mid-2017 and end of 2019. 

Other Regional FAFO platforms will be established in sequence, which will include other regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America, where INOFO already has representation. This is a true reflection of progressive capacity building for OFOs, which was championed by the IFOAM academy under the three-year IFAD-INOFO project, who worked closely with local partners, NOGAMU, in Africa, and OFAI, in India. The INOFO representatives at the ESA FAFO platform hope to continue working with other strategic partners such as the NOAMs7 within the region, OFOs8at local level, IFOAM, and IFAD at country and regional levels to further strengthen INOFO at all levels to utilize the space, participate and benefit from the IFAD facilitate but farmer-led inclusive development process for rural smallholder communities. INOFO recognizes and appreciates the support from IFAD and other development partners for the recognition of principles of inclusiveness, pluralism and heterogeneity of farming systems while working towards the s sustainable development goals.

Patikim Festival: sharing the harvest of hard work and industriousness

For Filipinos, the month of May is the month of festivals and thanksgiving for bountiful harvests. Every year, in May, farmers, advocates, and Local Government Units from Quezon Province, converged and share anything they can afford in celebration of bountiful harvest called Patikim Festival. The festival showcases locally organic produced cuisine such as rice cakes, local salad, lechon or roasted whole pig; cuisines cooked with coconut milk like sinantolan, fish ginataan and farmer bred rice where everyone can partake.

Patikim Festival started in Quezon province in 2013 through the initiative of the people’s organizations (POs) of MASIPAG in the municipalities of Real, Infanta and Gen. Nakar. Patikim serves as an expression of gratitude of the farmers to the organizations that helped them recover from the onslaught of typhoon Winnie last 2004, which caused an avalanche of boulders, logs and soil that buried their farmlands and caused the death of several of their families and community members.

The celebration enjoins more farmers to engage in organic farming. According to Virginia Nazareno of Kiday Community Farmers Association (KCFA), “Our area is naturally hazard-prone due to its proximity to the Pacific coastline and is frequently being battered by strong typhoons, affecting our crops and livelihood. Organic agriculture has a huge potential to increase resiliency of farmers, thereby increasing their ability to function even when faced with unexpected events such as climate change.”

The festival is also supported by the Catholic Church, through the Social Action Network of Infanta, MASIPAG, local government units and other NGOs. Aside from supporting such activities, several local government units are declaring their municipalities as organic or GMO-free as response to the farmers’ call to strengthen organic agriculture and sustainable food production in their locality. In particular, General Nakar, where the festival was held, passed an ordinance supporting organic agriculture and joined the municipalities under Leauge of Organic Agriculture Municipalities and Cities (LOAMC) against Golden Rice, a genetically modified rice supposedly aimed at children and women suffering from Vitamin A deficiency.

Imbued by the spirit of solidarity, the festival symbolizes the aspiration of farmers to be freed from the clutches of transnational corporations that hold the monopoly of seed and technology in maintaining a highly oppressive agricultural system. Patikim Festival is thus more than just a celebration of the farmers’ will to overcome impoverished conditions. It also gestures towards building a welcoming and unifying community of farmers which advocates for natural and organic farming in the Quezon province.