I would like to honor a man who had lived a well-lived life, deeply rooted in service and finding happiness in creating each day a better world for his fellow men.
I may have spent a brief time with him but his work made a huge impact on my life and the service I do to organic rice farmers and sustainable agriculture advocates. By introducing in the Philippines the organic approach to System of Rice Intensification (SRI), at a time when chemical rice farming’s detrimental effects are relegated to the sidelines. He had the foresight to carve a clear path of hope for rice farmers in the future.
During the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan in 2013 so many years after introducing organic SRI to the country, we found in our pre-intervention research with iRelief Foundation then, that disasters amplify a hundredfold the already ongoing negative effects of toxic chemical farming to the livelihood of farmers, the economy, health of farmworkers and consumers, soil life, water systems, biodiversity, society and the environment in general.
By adopting the organic SRI approach to farming and connecting with Ka Obet and the SRI Pilipinas network, we have seen and witnessed firsthand the reversal of the detrimental impacts of chemical farming. There is a way to farm rice that could give more than double the yield during the first organic transition cropping, using cheap readily available biodegradable materials nearby thus taking farmers out of the vicious cycle of debt while breathing new life to our ancestry’s cultural treasures of sharing and bayanihan.
There is a clear path to healing the land, soul, community, and planet. The way we do agriculture, together with so many organic SRI farmers across the country who now have thriving farms, living soils, debt-free and healthy families, act as living and breathing proofs.
Hearing stories of healing journeys from these organic farmers opens wider possibilities for the sustainable societies we strive for. Like how one noticed that an insect he has not encountered in the farm since childhood that gave him a nasty bite when he was a kid, is now again at the farm and came back just like the organisms in the past. That the plants and animals of our fathers and grandfathers can come back again, breathes new hope to the web and community of life adversely affected by chemical farming, and to the dream of building a more livable future for our children.
My being at the front row seat in witnessing and co-creating this awesome transformation of the farmers’ inner and outer landscapes is possible because of Ka Obet’s contribution to organic SRI and for that, I am deeply honored and grateful to have breath the same air with him in this lifetime.
Organic SRI Advocate
ESSA Council Member