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Filipino Farmer Honored in Norway
« on: March 01, 2009, 12:55:45 AM »
By Gloria Grejalde
PNA

Norway honored a Filipino farmer for his discovery of high-yielding and pest resistant rice during the first year celebration of the Svalvard Global Seed Vault on Thursday, February 26, 2009.

Norway Minister of Agriculture and Food Lard Peder Brekk praised Tay Gipo who was “one of the most memorable voices” during the first global seed vault seminar one year ago where 150 guests representing 33 countries and five continents were present, among them the president of the European Community, Jose Manuel Barrosso; the Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Jacques Diouf; and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai.

“He was a farmer who, despite having only four years of formal education, discovered a rice variety that proved to be high-yielding and pest resistant, the sample of which is among the thousands of seeds kept at the global seed vault,” he said.

The Philippines through the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is the highest donor to the global seed vault. It reportedly contributed 70,000 different varieties of rice from 120 different countries.

“I (mentioned) his name for two reasons. (First), to illustrate how the field-level knowledge of our farmers continues to be the most important element of crop conservation and second, to keep his memory alive. Just days ago, we received word that our fellow agriculturalist, Tay Gipo, passed away this month at the age of 64.”

“His legacy remains in the fields of the Philippines - where his “Bordagol” is grown by his neighbors - and their neighbors. And his legacy remains here in Svalbard where seeds of his “Bordagol” are safely stored for the future.”

Minister Brekk recounted how Tay Gipo discovered the rice which he himself named as “Bordagol.”

“During a particularly tough year, he noticed one plant in his field that did not succumb to the virus “tungro.” He literally had to pull the plant from the mouth of a farm animal who was planning to have it for a snack – he saved the seeds, replanted them and the next season he harvested 25 kilograms just from the seeds of that one plant.”

“With his incredible success, the rice he himself named “Bordagol” was born. He shared his success by sharing his seeds with his neighbors. The word spread and, in spite of his lack of education, he was invited to join a research institute where he learned rice breeding and improved his “Bordagol”, increasing its yield and resilience and therefore increasing the yields of the other farmers in his area.”

“When he spoke here last year, he ended his talk by asking - and then answering - a question that obviously was on his mind when he made his Odyssey to Svalbard - he asked how the Seed Vault would help him and his family. He answered it himself - frank and straightforward - “I don’t know. I don’t know if it will.”

“I call upon all of us in this room and countless others who have been involved in this process at all of its levels - the gene banks, the plant breeders, the international organizations, the research institutions, the governments - to remember his question because his answer was in many ways the correct one.”

“No one knows if the Seed Vault ever will be needed and no one knows if and when the seeds will be sent back to their depositor to restore a seed collection that has been lost.”

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is described as the ultimate safety net for the world’s seed banks. The Seed Vault is part of an international network for storage and use of genetic resources. It serves as the ‘central bank” of seeds.

“No country is entirely self-sufficient when it comes to genetic resources. Food security in every country depends on food crops that originate from other continents. Global collaboration is therefore essential to ensure correct storage and fair distribution of the value generated by their use in research and development. Safeguarding the genetic diversity of food plants is also fundamental to our ability to adapt to climate change. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a concrete and important step in this kind of global collaboration, and the initiative is supported by the United Nations,” Ola Westengen, operation manager of NordGen/Svalbard Global Seed Vault said during an interview with him a year ago before the opening of the seed vault.

Meanwhile, Minister Brekk stressed that the world is now facing an unprecedented challenge “a challenge that threatens the quality of life on every continent – the climate change.”

”I want to emphasize that the challenges we face can only be met through our joint efforts. Climate change and food insecurity are closely linked, and hence our policies must reflect this reality and be mutually supportive. The sustainable management of our resources will serve to mitigate the effects of climate change but sustainable management also must be seen as the most critical pre-requisite for development.”

Agriculture depends on the diversity of plant and animal genetic resources, and on their ability to adapt to change. As we face climate change, all of us in the global community need to dedicate ourselves to initiatives to preserve and ensure sustainable use of these resources – initiatives like the Seed Vault, the Minister explained.

“As science tries to keep up with the looming threats of changing climates and weather patterns, increasing temperatures and melting ice caps, we here in Svalbard are well aware that the most important use of crop diversity in the coming decades will be helping agriculture adapt to these changes.”

At the macro level, I call your attention to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture that now has been signed by 119 nations. It is a compelling example of what can be achieved through collaborative action.

The Treaty establishes common rules to make crop diversity freely accessible and to ensure that any benefits derived from that access are shared. It recognizes farmers’ rights - the contribution to the conservation and development of crop diversity that has taken place in the fields of farmers like Tay Gipo and his neighbors over the millennia - farmers who still use local crops in traditional agricultural systems.

Trade is another area where the links to both climate change and food security are undeniable. The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture stated quite firmly that all Members needed to make commitments to non-trade concerns and specifically mentioned food security and the need to protect the environment.

“This is a thought that should guide our future work. We cannot solve the global challenges of climate change, poverty reduction and food security by leaving food production to a handful of powerful exporters. It is increasingly important, and acknowledged, that all countries should maintain an appropriate level of self sufficiency.

By expressing his uncertainty; Gipo also expressed the notion that until now, gene banks, have been a “secret” treasure. Who outside of the small community of plant geneticists understood the importance of collecting, cataloguing and conserving our agricultural heritage - a heritage that is also our future food supply? I do not think it is so secret anymore! I think the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has raised understanding and awareness: that we must - and we will - protect crop biodiversity in order to feed a warming world.

Of course Gipo was not sure whether he - as a subsistence farmer - would ever benefit from access to genetic resources. After all, he was the end of a chain coming from Svalbard, from the gene banks, from the plant breeders, from the seed dealers. Gipo might also have been concerned for his future ability to produce and sell his own locally adapted rice varieties on the local markets.

Norway believes that to give positive answers to the kinds of challenges the hundreds of millions of other farmers like Gipo are facing, it is necessary to be pro-active.

“I want to emphasize that the challenges we face can only be met through our joint efforts. Climate change and food insecurity are closely linked, and hence our policies must reflect this reality and be mutually supportive. The sustainable management of our resources will serve to mitigate the effects of climate change but sustainable management also must be seen as the most critical pre-requisite for development,” he said.

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Re: Filipino Farmer Honored in Norway
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2009, 01:09:17 AM »
YET we're importing rice from other countries, which have used varieties developed from our country. so ironic.

but i'm proud of this achievement.
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Re: Filipino Farmer Honored in Norway
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2009, 04:04:56 AM »
isnt it ironic?
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Re: Filipino Farmer Honored in Norway
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2009, 06:35:40 AM »
Wala jud koy idea ana sa una nga naa ba diay global seed vault until nakakita ko documentary ana sa discovery channel man siguro to.Bisan magkinaunsaun ang kalibutan ma rest assured jud ta nga naay binhi nakaandam nga itanumay.
Ang Bordagol rice mas popular na siya sa davao city.Mao na tigpalit namo sa una kay nindot kaayo na ug klase.How nice naa diay nakastore na nga seed sa global seed vault.
Looy kaayo sa atua ang mga farm ground gi divert na ug tamnanan ug balili or grass kay mas mahal pa man daw ang grass nga paliton sa mga subdivision para sa  ila yard ug lawn kay sa magtanum ug rice mao na nagsalig nalang tag rice import sa pilipinas.Unya mahal sad magtanum rice kay mahal ang fertilizer way pang capital ang mga yano ra nga mag uuma.
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