NUEVA ECIJA, Sep 11 (IPS) - Sustainable agriculture was far from farmer Peter Desisto's mind when he went to an organic farming seminar organised by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) ten years ago. He and other farmers attended because they heard that PRRM was giving out loans.
Borrowing is a way of life for farmers who need to purchase expensive chemical pesticide and fertiliser before they can even plant rice in their fields. Such borrowings, usually from local money lenders who charge high interest, keep farmers perpetually in debt. The harvest gives them little surplus to avoid fresh loans in the next cropping season.
Desisto came out from the PRRM seminar loaded, not with borrowed money, but with new knowledge and a firm conviction that organic farming was the way forward. He gave up chemical-based inputs and instead bought cheaper chicken manure to fertilise the fields, raised ducks that eat the snails that were ruining his rice stalks, and used indigenous herbs to control pests.
Instead of solely relying on rice, Desisto diversified into hog and poultry raising and planting onions for extra income. "I spent more time applying chicken manure and planting other crops. The extra effort paid off," he said.
My lifelong pursuit, since age 18, has been to live more fully and find wisdom. This has involved studies with Zen masters, Tai Chi masters, and great psychotherapists while achieving my license as a gestalt therapist and psychoanalyst.
Along the way, I became aware of how the planet is under great stress due to the driven nature of human activity on this planet.
I believe that the advancement of human well-being will reduce societies addictive behaviors, and will thus also help preserve the environment and perhaps slow down the effects of global warming and other major threats to the health of human societies.