Dear President Duterte: What future awaits farmers?

Patrick Taylor
An expatriate asks about the future of farmers and organic agriculture in the Philippines

Below is an open letter to president-elect Rodrigo Duterte on organic farming, extreme climate change, and the agrarian generation gap in the Philippines.

Dear president (elect) Duterte,

My name is Patrick Taylor. I am the one behind Hybrid Agricultural Empowerment. I have dedicated a substantial portion of my life as of late to the enrichment of farmers in Mindanao, and I do this for free.

This letter is not about me. I will only be using examples from my work so that you may know the extent to which I have invested in this cause.

I have helped teach and empower farmers in the Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao. In Zamboanga, I taught over 100 farmers in organic agriculture, and helped Subanen women form a cooperative so they can receive fair trade.

I also extensively worked with one of the few agriculture-centered high schools in the area to plant a sustainable garden and address children’s malnutrition. The nursery for a garden that can feed roughly 300 people sustainably has been set up as of this writing.

TEAMWORK. These farmers are now part of a cooperative. Photo by Patrick Taylor/Hybrid Agricultural Empowerment

I mention my work not to glorify myself in any way, but to illustrate to the reader that my body of work puts me in a position to request for a meeting with you.

I want to ask you, what is the future of the people I work for? What will happen to the law of organic agriculture, Republic Act 10068? Will the farmers finally receive the fair treatment they deserve?

I have a group of them in the mountains, wishing to reforest the areas depleted by El Niño and constant slash-and-burn – a practice that would make the beautiful mountains of Mindanao and elsewhere that I have come to know and love be gravely endangered.

KAINGIN. An example of slash-and-burn farming. Photo by Patrick Taylor/Hybrid Agricultural Empowerment

But not only that, the people, my friends – the Subanens, and other tribal folk – are at risk of displacement, at risk of great calamity due to landslides or drought. Do we want the beauty of our countryside to be a thing of the past?

We both champion change and I wish to have a talk without aides or representatives, just man to man. We can do this in your backyard or mine. I greatly anticipate hearing back from you. Thank you and God bless. 

Warmest regards and congratulations on your election victory,

Patrick Taylor 
Hybrid Agricultural Empowerment

– Rappler.com 

Patrick Taylor leads Hybrid Agricultural Empowerment, which teaches organic farming in rural areas. This was originally posted on the Hybrid Facebook page.

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