Masipag Biodiversity Center (MBC) : A Dream Comes True
It has long been the dream of the farmers of the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, to have their own farm center that would serve as a home for alternative farming systems. The dream came true on October 23, 2005. On that day the Masipag Biodiversity Center
(MBC) was officially opened.
Like so many of their sisters and brothers around the world, small farmers in the Philippines face an uphill struggle to survive. In the words of one farmer: "When I have paid back my loans for seeds, fertilizer and pesticides I have very little left to feed my family."
Conventional agricultural practices which rely on heavy inputs of fertilizers and pesticides have created a polluted environment and left farmers with huge debts to pay off. It’s no wonder that so many farm families have left the countryside to eke out a miserable existence in the big cities!
The MBC (Masipag Biodiversity Center) is an attempt to help the small farmers of Mindanao to farm in ways that are both sustainable and viable. “The aims of the MBC are; the protection and conservation of our bio diversity, a place where the organic farming technologies of our farmers can be displayed and a center for alternative and renewable energy systems.”
The MBC is located in the province of Bukidnon on the island of Mindanao, Philippines. The total area is 9.5 hectares. Over 600 varieties of native rice collected from all over the Philippines are being maintained, cultivated and conserved at the center. As well there are 40 varieties of maize being maintained. In addition native varieties of vegetables, fruit trees and herbs are grown. We are now conserving and breeding our native chicken breeds, goats, pigs and ducks.
The MBC is a training center for farmers from all over the island of Mindanao. We have had visitors in recent years from Thailand, Burma, China and Indonesia who are interested in learning about sustainable agriculture in the Philippines.
Our seeds are distributed to the MASIPAG farmers who will cultivate them in their farms. For the farmers of Mindanao the center is already demonstrating that sustainable agriculture does work! the seeds have found a home! And a healthy environment is being restored!
MASIPAG is an acronym for: Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para ang Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Farmers and Scientists in partnership for agriculture development). The organization began in 1986. It is a farmer-scientist partnership that promotes genuine development of farmers through a proper, sustainable approach. With over 30,000 farmer-members,MASIPAG’s work proves that even without the use of dangerous GMOs,(genetically modified organisms) farmers have a means of producing safe, clean and nutritious food.
Oliver McCrossan, 3/24/2010