Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) criticized today presidentiable Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s platform for agriculture. “Marcos Jr.’s plans are a rehash of his late father’s programs. These programs have been tried, tested, and have failed. Let me categorically declare: MASAGANA 99 was a failure,” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos says.
“MASAGANA 99 was only masagana for foreign agrochemical corporations and local importers and traders which monopolize the production and sale of fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemical inputs needed by hybrid seeds. Until now, this dependence on imported inputs hounds farmers as we shoulder uncontrollably high prices of chemical fertilizers. Sila-sila lang ang masagana, ang magsasaka bangkarote,” Ramos laments.
Started in 1973, MASAGANA 99 aimed to strengthen agricultural production through the promotion of hybrid high-yielding seed varieties and agricultural credit. Funded through World Bank loans, the program promoted the use of imported fertilizers and pesticides needed by the hybrid seeds to grow. The foreign loan-funded credit program for farmers enabled them to buy the imported inputs.
By 1979, production costs for chemical inputs had skyrocketed by 262%. Outputs slightly increased by 55% but farmer incomes increased only by 20%. By the 1980s, at least 400,000 farmers had gone bankrupt, incapable of repaying government loans. In 1983, rural poverty surged to 73% from just 33% in 1971.
Aside from the economic aspect, Ramos insists that MASAGANA 99’s push for the use of more chemicals did incalculable damage to the soil and environment, as well as the health of farmers.
“Marcos Jr. should stop branding his father’s dictatorship as the golden age of agriculture – imbes na golden age, baka golden kuhol,” Ramos comments, referencing another failed Marcos project.
KMP slammed any insistence on “repeating MASAGANA 99’s failures.” Ramos noted that Marcos Jr.’s proposed National Seeds Production Act aims to also further proliferate genetically-modified seed varieties. The farmer leader likewise chided at his push for “digital agri-prenuership,” as “mere adoption of the latest pro-foreign and pro-big business buzzwords.”
“We have repeatedly seen the failure of merely copying or importing the latest foreign tech-centered programs, what we need now is to put Filipino farmers at the center of development,” Ramos ends. #