Rosalie Ellasus, a farmer from San Jacinto, Philippines, who answered some questions for us by email from the Philippines:
Please tell us about yourself and your farm.
I am a 49 year old lady farmer, widow with 3 sons, Medical Technology graduate from San Jacinto, Pangasinan, Philippines. A Zero Knowledge in farming, I started tilling 1.3 hectares of agri land in 2001 that I acquired from my savings from being an Overseas Foreign Worker and rose up to 10 hectares to date. In the beginning I was a plain receiver of 25% share, but am now a hands-on farmer. Learning farming from the Department of Agriculture Corn Program called IPM-FFS (Integrated Pest Management - Farmers’ Field School), I became a very active farmer leader in my town, elected as National President of Philmaize Federation, Inc in 2006, and won as town councilor in the 2007 local election.
You wrote in the description of your panel presentation that agricultural biotechnology has “changed my life like magic in just a few years.” What do you mean by that?
My journey toward Biotechnology farming started in 2002 after visiting a demo trial of BT Corn in a nearby town. I was challenged and intrigued with the outcome of the trial, and little did I know it did change my life like “magic”. My willingness and openness to technology gave me the opportunity to gain the greener pasture I’d been looking for in a foreign country for 11 years. In fact, this year I just finished transacting to lease 20 hectares that will add up to my present 10 hectares of agri land to be planted all with stacked corn again. Not to mention my being an Ambassadress of Biotechnology in Asia, which I never dreamed of. My passion for Biotech farming then rewarded me an International recognition, being the 1st recipient of the “Kleckner Trade & Technology Advancement Award” in 2007 at Des Moines, Iowa during the World Food Prize.
How is agricultural biotechnology changing farming in the Philippines?
Philippines being the first country in Asia to have a biotechnology crop for food and feed approved for commercialization greatly showed significant development for farmers by attaining higher yield, thereby becoming profitable, reducing pesticide use and helping the country attain sufficiency in grain. Adoption of biotech corn in particular has increased consistently since it was first commercialized delivering economic, environmental, health and social benefits to all kinds of farmers in the country.
What do you believe is the outlook for greater adoption of agricultural biotechnology in Asia?
Being an Ambassadress of Biotechnology in Asia, I believe that if these 5 countries (Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand) will adopt agricultural biotechnology greatly it will not only boost the economy of each country, but will also become the best quality biotech grains that can feed the growing population on the whole planet.