End Corporate Control of Food Systems! – Peasant Movement of the Philippines

We in the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) or Peasant Movement of the Philippines supports the Global Day of Action Against Corporate Control of Food Systems.

We are in unity with sectors and stakeholders engaged in food production to push back against the unjust, inequitable, unhealthy, and unsustainable global food systems that force millions of people to go hungry.

In the Philippines, apart from traditional and heirloom varieties, only a few transnational corporations control the seeds and seedlings industries. The three largest seed corporations own and control at least 57.6% of protected seed varieties. The largest of these are subsidiaries of U.S. and European-based companies. In particular, US-based corporations such as Pioneer Hi-Bred Phil, SeedWorks Philippines, Inc, Del Monte Philippines, Inc., and Dole Food Company control 56% of protected seeds in the country.

With regards to farm inputs, a majority or 81.63% of fertilizer used in the Philippines is imported. In 2019, more than 2.5-million MT of fertilizer amounting to USD 681 million was imported to the Philippines. The imported pesticides have reached 29,552 MT amounting to USD 280 million, most of these are insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides for rice and various crops. There are more than 10,000 fertilizer and pesticide handlers, over 17,000 kinds of pesticides, and 3,222 fertilizers in use in the Philippines. The fertilizer and pesticide industries are indeed very lucrative for global corporations and their local subsidiaries.

While most domestic farm work is done manually, various machinery used in agriculture is supplied by foreign corporations like Kubota and Yanmar of Japan, Massey Ferguson of Canada and UK, CNH of Italy and US, John Deere of US, and McCormick and Landini of Italy.

Several million hectares of land in the Philippines are controlled by corporate and agribusiness plantations which utilize hazardous chemical inputs promoting soil erosion and accelerating pest resistance. Its continued expansion aggravates peasant landlessness and environmental degradation.

The entire process of grains and food production — from land preparation up to the distribution and consumption is controlled by corporations and operates based on profit and revenue accumulation.

The pandemic and strict lockdowns have displaced millions of Filipino workers — over 7.3 million in 2020. This situation of severe unemployment and joblessness resulted in rising hunger for many families.

In the past week, social solidarity actions in the form of Community Pantries have spread during the past week. What started as a single community pantry along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City have been replicated, and now, over 450 community pantries were set up in villages, cities, and towns, with the same objective of aiding hungry Filipino families.

These pantries were filled with donated food — both fresh and processed — to help families who do not have food on their tables get by even just for a meal or two. Farmers and fishers also opted to donate their surplus harvest and catch to the pantries, highlighting the compassion among the poorest of the poor. Many initiators of these pantries are also choosing to get fresh food supply directly from farmers instead of sourcing from big supermarkets.

These collective efforts to give whatever they can and to get only according to their needs are inspiring and uplifting especially amid a pandemic that is worsened by stark government neglect.

These community pantries give prime importance to the people’s fundamental rights to food and realize that no one should go hungry as long as there is food available.

While these pantries or food banks are giving and sharing food for free, the largest food conglomerates in the Philippines — Nestle, San Miguel Brewery, Universal Robina Corp., Purefoods, Hormel, among others, continue to rake in huge revenues and profits. Among food corporations, Nestlé Philippines, Inc. registered the highest revenue of USD 2.4 billion. Several tycoons in the Forbes list of Filipino billionaires are engaged in food processing and food service industries.

It is important and imperative for the people to take back control over food production and food systems. For farmers, collective farming activities or Bungkalan have become a resistance movement against the control of local landlords and big corporations over land, agriculture, and food production.

Let us continue working together to assert genuine land reform and food security for all.

End Corporate Control of Food Systems!

Just, Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Food Systems Now!

Stop FAO-CropLife #ToxicAlliance!

Sever UN-World Economic Forum Partnership!

Uphold People’s Food Sovereignty!