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


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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