Joint Farmers Organization and NGO Declaration on International Year of Family Farming (The Quezon City Declaration)

Joint Farmers Organization and NGO Declaration on International Year of Family Farming (The Quezon City Declaration)

Establishing Policies and Programs Providing Greater Incentives to Smallholder /family Farmers and their organizations for greater gender, generational and social equity, food security, and economic development, biodiversity and climate mitigation and adaptation, and better governance

We, representatives of a broad spectrum of national farmers and fishers organization and Civil Society Organizations and International Organizations assembled on a two-day  (24-25th November 2014) Knowledge Learning Market and Policy Engagement Conference in Bureau of Soil and Water Management in Quezon City;

Delighted by the global community’s recognition of the Philippines government’s role in pushing the United Nations General Assembly in 2011 to declare 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), affirming the very important role of  family farming and smallholder farming in providing food security and eradicating poverty and in the attainment of the international agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals;

Recognizing, the Philippine agrarian structure as made up of a few large plantations and a majority of small farms managed and operated by around 10 million families or households, where farm labor is largely supplied by the family’s household (husband, wife, children, sometimes with close relatives around 3.5 million of which are small-scale coconut farmers and 1.4 million are small scale marine fishers in 928 coastal municipalities/cities; the rural farming population of the Philippines comprises 51% as of year 2013, the agriculture sector contributes 12% to the country’s GDP, and comprises 32% of the total labor force; and as such is a big contributor to the nation’s economy;

Deeply concerned, that as of 2013, around half of the small farmer and fisher families live below poverty line; farming has been regarded as a lowly job, seen fit only for school drop-outs or those who have no other options, thus the youth are not attracted at all to consider agriculture as a profession;

Understanding that political, technological, institutional, socio-economic, and climate forces all contribute to the poverty of farming families, the Philippine government has enacted several crucial policies/legislations since the restoration of democracy in 1986 to overcome poverty in the rural areas and promote rural development;

Recognizing that big gaps remain in policies and their implementation, and the IYFF as the timely occasion, we come forward to declare and commit to collectively work on the following measures especially during the last year and a half of the Aquino Administration:

A. Fast track the implementation of Asset Reform Measures: Extend CARPER to complete land distribution in 2016 and to strengthen support services benefiting 6 million agrarian reform farming families; mandate and empower NAMRIA as he final authority and to finish and complete the delineation of some 870 municipal waters benefiting 1.4 million fishing families before the end of the Aquino Administration and as mandated in Philippine peoples’ communities 9 million hectares of ancestral lands and waters; and, establish the PHP 71 billion Coconut Levy Trust Fund that will benfit 3.4 million coconut farming families.

B. Provide greater incentives to family farmers in building farmer-owned and controlled agri-enterprises. Upscale and outscale Integrated, Diversified, Ecological, Holistic, Resilient, Organic Farming, Aqua and Agro-Forestry Systems by Farming Families  through stronger implementation of the National Organic Act (RA 10068), increasing the Department of Agriculture’s targets and budget to 2% devoted to organic agriculture; improve family farmers and their organizations bargaining position, competitiveness, and access to government marketing programs such as the DA’s Agri Pinoy Trading Center (APTC) and the Partnership Against Hunger of DSWD and DAR; ensure state financial service providers such as Land Bank of the Philippines to broaden access of family farmers and their organizations to finance by strengthening their capacity through effective Business Development Services, and more responsive Philippine Crop Insurance System.

C. Strengthen family farmers and their organizations’ capacity to be more climate resilient and to institute climate mitigation and adaptation measures such as having greater control over seeds, and transforming current mono-crop inorganic agriculture system into integrated, diversified organic farming systems that incorporate value chain optimization, incubation, among others;

D. Enact a Magna Carta for Young Farmers that will protect the rights of young farmers aged 15-40 years, and establish programs that provide greater incentives for young farmers and institutionalize their participation in agriculture policy making bodies; Guarantee women farmers access to basic resources such as land, water, health, and sanitation facilities; and give affirmative action to them such that they become more involved in technology and entrepreneurship training and food processing activities; and;

E. Strengthen the representation, involvement, and participation of women, men, and young farmers through their organizations in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs as well as in the existing consultative and policy making bodies of government, among others the national and local agrarian reform councils, National Organic Agriculture Board, National Youth Commission, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries, AFCs, Agri Pinoy Trading facility and the Grassroots Participatory Budget Processes and the National Convergence Initiative.

“Ang Pamilyang Magsasaka ay Nagbibigay Buhay”. This is the theme of the country’s celebration of the International Year of Family Farming. It is very apt for family farmers, who inspite of their poverty, remain to feed the country’s people and care for the environment, the soil, the rural landscape and heritage. Let us promote family farming. Let us have the will and the resolve to create an enabling policy environment for family farming to survive, be resilient and to thrive, giving a sense of pride and dignity to small scale women, men and young farmers.

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