Farmers ask for tech suited for their needs

Farmers ask for tech
suited for their needs
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Advocacy groups are pushing for agricultural technology that is grounded on the actual condition of farmers in Mindanao.

Leo XL Fuentes Jr., regional coordinator of Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Pilipinas (Masipag) Mindanao, said in a media interview on Friday, November 24, at the MIC Cursillo Retreat House on F. Torres Street, Davao City, that technology that is promoted to Filipino farmers should be tailored to the actual needs of farmers.

“We are not against technology, but we make it clear that the technologies that must be promoted are those that are grounded on the actual conditions of our farmers. More importantly, we should recognize the farmers’ capacity to create technologies according to their perceived needs,” Fuentes said.

Fuentes pointed out that one of the main problems of Filipino farmers is their access to resources such as land and inputs such as pesticides, seedlings, and fertilizer. Based on the data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) about 78 percent of Filipino farmers own three hectares of land or less. He said that the group is pro-technology as long as it is achievable to the farmers.   

Oftentimes, large corporations present digitalization such as the use of drones and technologically advanced tools as solutions to the dire situation of farmers. However, they advocate that these small-scale farmers could create solutions that could solve their perceived needs.

Mariano Naez, a 69-year-old farmer from Purok 1, Tuburan, Tulunan, Cotabato, said in a media interview, that programs and technology that are not tailored to the needs of the farmers will not prosper.

“Ako as mag-uuma dili ko anti-development pero kung ang development wala nahaom sa didto sa panginahanglan sa mag-uuma dili gyud na makuan (As a farmer, I am not anti-development but if the development does not fit to the needs of the farmers it will not work),” Naez said.

Naez expressed that one of the problems that his fellow farmers are facing is their land for farming. He said that the technological advancements in agriculture are something that his fellow farmers cannot afford to use. Farmers often have a hard time purchasing tools hence, affording technology that usually costs a lot is a far fetch for them.  

Naez emphasized that the only way the circumstances of farmers will improve is if they personally identify the problems they are facing and have security in their land area. 

The Metsa  Foundation, ETC Group, as well as Masipag, organized their annual forum on November 24, entitled the “Forum on Peasant Science” which seeks to address practical, realistic answers in light of the expanding tendency of corporate takeover in agriculture. Around 45 farmers from different parts of Mindanao were able to participate. 

During the forum, the Masipag farmers shared five Farmer Developed and Adapted Technology (FDAT) and these are nature-based solutions that can be replicated by farmers. Some of their FDAT are seaweeds that can be used as fertilizers and pesticides for farming. 

These advocacy groups aim to conduct a bigger-scale forum that can cater to other farmers in the southernmost region of the Philippines. RGP


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