“Nourish our soils and farmlands in a regenerative way” – Regenerative agriculture experts and advocates

May 10, 2021

MANILA, 10 May 2021 — Sustainable farming advocates highlighted the socio-economic, environmental, and climate benefits of regenerative agriculture – a farming method that improves the resources it uses rather than destroying or depleting them through technologies that revitalize the soil and the environment during the 44th episode of “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Pathways,” with the topic, “Farms of the Future.”

The online conversation hosted by three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda featured sustainable farming experts including Moises Butic, Ifugao muyong system practitioner; Renée Perrine, Co-Founder of Hineleban Farms; and Nicolo and Paula Aberasturi, Founders of Earth Flora Inc. They shared their regenerative agriculture practices and gave tips on how to secure and ensure a steady supply of safe and nutritious food even in the most challenging of times.

“What are the challenges facing the Ifugao terraces landscape? There is a lack of appreciation for the value of trees, and the widespread use of fast-growing tree species disturbs and changes the landscape of the original muyong or agroforestry plants. There should be more studies on values associated with the multi-functionality of the muyong and the rice terraces. We should also add more programs to sustain and enhance local initiatives geared toward the promotion of the Ifugao culture among the new generation,” said Mr. Butic.

“When we cover the soil, we actually enhance the soil health. Our number one rule or motto is ‘Zero soil leaves the land’. Second thing is to use the resources that God gave us, which is water. We are in a tropical climate so usually we have a lot of rain, but in 2015-2016, we had a long extensive drought. We have to be climate-resilient to both drought and flood,” said Ms. Perrine.

“Filipinos are one of the most creative people in the world. Current government efforts have been towards mechanization and digitalization of agriculture without putting much effort into soil building. Healthy soil is the backbone of the Philippine agriculture and the quickest and cheapest way to raise farmer productivity and income. If farmers are given the right tools and training, they can run a very profitable farm business. This will start attracting young people back to farming,” said Mr. and Mrs. Aberasturi.

As a home gardener herself and author of House Bill No. 637 or the Food Forest Gardening Act of 2019, Legarda emphasized that the application of regenerative agriculture can produce high quality, nutrient-dense food while simultaneously improving the land, and ultimately leading to productive farms and healthy communities and economies.

“Ang problema ng pagbabaha ay dahil sa siltation ng mga ilog dulot ng soil erosion. Ang precious soil na galing sa mga slopes at kabundukan ay nag-eerode dahil sa maling paggawa ng agrikultura. Nahuhubad ang ating lupa so nawawala ang nutrients ng soil, nakakasagabal pa sa ilog, nagbabaha pa sa mga tabing-dagat o tabing-ilog, at nagdudulot ng mas malaking disaster. Pero kung aalagaan natin ang ating soil in a regenerative way ay magiging mayaman ang lupa, maganda pa ang ating mga tanim, at hindi pa magso-soil erosion at river siltation,” Legarda concluded.

As an online discussion to promote health, environmental consciousness, and climate-adaptive practices, “Stories for a Better Normal” aims to change the mindset of individuals, families, and communities by demonstrating ways in which a ‘better normal’ can be realized within our communities.

This online discussion is organized in partnership between the Office of Deputy Speaker Legarda and the Climate Change Commission, with support from the Department of Education, Philippine Information Agency, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, The Climate Reality Project-Philippines and Mother Earth Foundation. ###