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Project of the Day: Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Agricultural Development

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hartsellml
4th January 2014


Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Agricultural Development

= MASIPAG is an acronym for Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para Sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura, which translates to “Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development, Inc.”

URL = http://www.masipag.org

“Where Stallman and the Free Software Foundation seek to ensure that their GNU tools will always be available to programmers, MASIPAG demands that farmers be given the equivalent ability to save their seeds, trade seeds with neighbours, and work separately or together on developing better or different strains in their crops.” – Kipp [1]

Description

Douthwaite:
“MASIPAG] is an acronym for ‘Farmer- Scientist Partnership for Agricultural Development’ in Tagalog . . . . [It] was founded in 1985 in Los Banos in the Philippines as a partnership between a group of farmers dissatisfied with the economic and environmental cost of growing [high-yielding varieties] with high levels of chemical inputs; a group of ‘dissident, nationalist, crop scientists from the University of the Philippines’; and some social scientists from an NGO. . . . MASIPAG shows that [farmers] can learn new techniques and become more effective breeders.” (http://ssrn.com/abstract=1390273)

History

Douthwaite:

‘“MASIPAG was formed in 1985 in Los Baños in the Philippines as a partnership between a group of farmers dissatisfied with the economic and environmental cost of growing [Hi-Yielding Varieties] with high levels of chemical inputs; a group of ‘dissident, nationalist, crop scientists from the University of the Philippines’; and some social scientists from an NGO. . . . The organisation began by collecting rice varieties and by 1992 it had 210 in its breeding stock, of which 87 were [Hi-Yielding Varieties]. At the same time, the scientists trained the farmers in the basics of hybridisation, selection and record-keeping.” ((http://ssrn.com/abstract=1390273))

Discussion

Keith Aoki:

poster_GGWA copy (618x800)“Farmers’ rights advocates have the potential to evolve into what the open source software movement has become, i.e., a commons-based peer-production network that facilitates the sharing of plant genetic information and biotechnological tools. This is where adaptation of GPL from the software context into the PGR context may be useful. As in the software context, opposition to proprietary moves regarding PGRs has been coalescing. One of the most active of these groups is the Philippines-based MASIPAG, an organization that brings together farmers, scientists, and NGOs to engage in agricultural research. To illustrate parallels between trying to ensure free access to PGRs and software source code, consider the following comparisons between MASIPAG’s version of farmers’ rights and the GNU/Linux software model. In the context of MASIPAG, Boru Douthwaite writes about parallels with the open-source software movement that created Linux. For software read seed. Some farmers are seed “hackers.” Although their source code—the DNA coding—is closed to them, nature itself or human intervention generates new “hacks” by crosses and mutation, and farmers select hacks that they judge beneficial. The tantalising prospect opens up that [participatory plant breeding] might be able to capture the power of the “bazaar” development model in the same way that the open-source software movement has. . . . If [participatory plant breeding] can harness the creativity of farmer “hackers,” wouldn’t this be a better and safer way of trying to double rice production in the next twenty years than relying on Big Science to pull off a second Green Revolution?

An open source PGR model would be based on the idea that farmers are both users and developers of different types of information technology.140 Such a model might be applied not only to the development of plant varieties via selective breeding, genomics, and genetic manipulation of PGRs, but also to the development of related machinery/technology and the sharing of agricultural information, knowledge, and other agricultural know-how.” (http://ssrn.com/abstract=1390273)

 

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