Farming as a Social Enterprise
Sustainable agriculture is the holistic approach to farming and the provision of food. According to the Committee on Twenty-First Century Systems Agriculture (2010), sustainable agriculture must have these four goals:
1. produce enough to satisfy human needs
2. enhance environmental quality and protecting the natural resource base
4. increase the quality of life for farmers, farmworkers, and society as a whole
From the word itself, sustainability is a continuous process which strives for a wide range of improvements from its current state. In this case, sustainability is framed along with the triple bottom line approach wherein it considers the 3Ps—people, planet, and prosperity.
The dimensions of sustainable development is also a holistic approach to agriculture that considers the land that is tilled, the life and labor that is toiled and fed, and the prosperity of the community. Therefore, farm management is not only about feeding mouths and maximizing gains, but it is also about respect and responsibility to everyone and everything. On the four goals enumerated by the Committee on Twenty-First Century Systems Agriculture (2010), this writing will dwell on how to increase the quality of life (QOL) of the farmers, farmworkers, and society as a whole based on the dimensions of sustainable development which reiterates that development should be:
1. Socially just and equitable
Being socially just and equitable is a principle that means each member of the society has a right to be given fair treatment by the system they are included in. Fair treatment in the sense that it also addresses the underlying differences of opportunity and access to social resources of the stakeholders and not just to make everyone equal. It is important to recognize that not everyone is entitled to the same opportunities as others who are more fortunate so that the necessity for the commitment of lifting each other up is also addressed. There should be equitable opportunities for education, land-use, and labor rights and wages. Knowledge should be a collective asset of the group involved and should be fairly distributed and offered to everyone. It is important to address that each one is entitled to learn. This knowledge will also help the people understand that the responsibility for the use of land is a shared and communal effort. The institution should also recognize and respect the rights of workers by giving them fair and just wages, and humane working environment.
2. Politically empowering
The people should have the courage to speak up for themselves especially when it is for the good of the community or the institution they belong to. They should be able to thrive in the institution that encourages them to stand up for themselves and be involved in activities that will increase their quality of life and not just follow the instructions of the management. The farmers are people and not robots. The farmers and farm workers should not be alienated from the land and the bountiful harvest.
3. Builds upon Filipino values
Filipino values are deeply rooted in the bayanihan sense wherein everyone will come together to help. These values include being mapagmalasakit (being there for others), maalalahanin (concern for others), matulungin (helpful), magalang (respectful), masipag (hard-working), matapat (honest), and makabayan (patriotic). The institution shall genuinely embody these traits to maintain a harmonious relationship in the farm. A socially responsible farm should embody camaraderie. The people involved shall have genuine care and concern for each other regardless of their role or position. The farmers should be treated with the utmost respect because they are the ones that produce the food we eat. Without them, the world will go hungry. They should not be treated like mere laborers who tend to the farm and like disposable machinery that needs to be replaced when they cannot execute their expected outputs. Everyone should be treated like family.
4. Helps in developing full human potential
Empowerment also results in the development of full human potential. In farm management, the institution shall encourage and/or develop programs that would develop full human potential. These programs should involve both formal and informal educational institutions that would enhance the physical, intellectual, emotional, and moral intelligence of the people involved and they should be able to share this development with others. In this process, the individual and group development would mirror an improvement in their health, creativity, intuition, and compassion that shall amplify their sense of responsibility for others—family, community, society, and nature.
5. Creates an “enabling environment” conducive to peace, order, and unity
An “enabling environment” is about developing a culture or space wherein the people are given the chance to develop their full human potential. It is an environment that liberates rather than discriminates. It does not embody hate, judgment, greed, or selfishness. Instead, it embodies love, acceptance, and genuine care for each and everyone in the society. These characteristics are conducive to peace, order, and unity in the institution and/or the community that leaves no one behind.
These should be kept in mind when planning to establish a farm and practiced to heart when the farm is already established. Sustainable development in agriculture is not only about the provision of food security but also the holistic development of every stakeholder in the community.
Bitsch, V. (January 2011). Sustainability Agriculture, Social Responsibility and Dairy Farming. Michigan State University. Retrieved from https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/234/76566/Sustainability_Agriculture.pdf on 19 April 2019
Tinsley, E. (16 Apr 2018). Can social enterprises improve the agriculture value chain for farmers. The World Bank. Retrieved from http://blogs.worldbank.org/psd/health/can-social-enterprises-improve-agriculture-value-chain-farmers on 19 April 2019.
Project: Human City. (2 Feb 2017). What is Social equity? Retrieved from https://projecthumancity.com/2017/02/02/what-is-social-equity/ on 19 April 2019.