Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Earth & Environmental Sciences


Cindi Katz

Committee Members

Paige West

William Solecki

Michael Menser

Darlene Occeña-Gutierrez

Subject Categories

Agricultural Economics | Geography | Political Science | Public Policy


Debates over food security strategies in the Philippines have pitted the neoliberal paradigm of trade liberalization, export cropping, and chemical and biotech agricultural methods against the food sovereignty paradigm of protectionism, staple cropping, and sustainable agriculture methods.

The Philippine government has long pushed for yield increases of staples. However, there has been dissonance between governmental desires for rice self-sufficiency and pursuit of a more export-oriented agricultural economy. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Trade Organization have pressured the government of the Philippines to adopt various tenets of neoliberalism (trade liberalization, privatization, deregulation, and budgetary austerity), which have hindered the achievement of Philippine goals for self-sufficiency in its staple foods and stunted the potential benefits of land reform.

Through ethnographic research of the social and ecological conditions in three rural villages in the province of Bukidnon, this examination of agrarian change explores how various actors--small farmers, collectives, large planters, and agribusiness corporations--have been scaling their projects in the agricultural economy.

The use of chemical inputs has damaged soils and saddled farmers with debts. In many cases, control of land has been lost to elites through sales or pawning arrangements. Relatively egalitarian corn- and rice-farming areas have given way to a stratified landscape of sugarcane and banana plantations, as former smallholders have been forced to work as wage laborers. Multinational agribusinesses have steered the area away from staple production and threatened human and environmental health with pesticide exposure and erosion.

Some farmers though have organized against these prevailing trends. Production and social reproduction have been rescaled through collective marketing, reciprocal labor arrangements, and more equitably gendered divisions of labor. Agroecological methods, such as composting, organic fertilization, seed saving, and indigenous pest control have scaled the reproduction of environmental conditions more locally and increased farmer incomes because their inputs are created on the farm. Protecting local control of the means of production—seeds, fertilizers, and especially land—has become an important method for preserving a smallholder class, maintaining more self-determination, and working toward greater food sovereignty.