Fr. Rene C. Cabag, CICM-CA presented his thesis to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Maryhill School of Theology (MST) in September 2007. Below is the Abstract of his thesis entitled GRATIA PLENA SOCIAL ACTION CENTER: The Quest for Alternative Farming in the Context of BEC Formation.
Human needs for food reciprocate human growing population. There is an urgency to increase food production in order to respond to food scarcity. In reality, these problems are not due to an absolute scarcity of food, but to the more complex issues of who grows food, how and where it is grown, how it is distributed, and finally, who has access to it. In this complicated web of reasons, inequality is the outstanding driving force behind hunger. Science and technology has been utilized as the primary tool that would solve and handle human scarcity for food. The prevailing agricultural system, variously called “conventional or synthetic farming method” has delivered tremendous gains in productivity.
Yet the long-term viability of our current food production system is being questioned in many aspects such as human and environmental impacts, economic and political. This development in agricultural production is paradox of starvation amidst plenty. The fact is that there is an actual increase in food production yet there is still a growing hunger in the world.
Alternative farming technology is an attempt to cope with the unfavorable consequences of the synthetic approach. Organic farming method is one of these alternatives. An agricultural development that provides a stable nutritious food supply to consumers at a reasonable price with reasonable return to family-farm producers at the same time using production practices that enhance agricultural resources and protection of the environment. In 1987, the Diocese of San Jose de Nueva Ecija, through its Most Reverent Bishop Leo M. Drona, commissioned the Director of the Diocesan Social Action Center, Rev. Fr. Cesar C. Vergara, to formulate an integrated development program that would address the needs of the poor. Gratia Plena Social Action Center (SAC-GP), which serves as a rural development program among the farming communities in the context of the Basic Ecclesial Community, was organized and mobilized. SAC-GP advocates organic farming technology as an alternative farming approach towards a holistic human development.
This paper will focus on the effectiveness and the challenges of SAC-GP’s advocacy on organic farming method in the Damayang Kristiyano Formation. It will present the background information of (SAC-GP); history, ogals, vision-mission of the organization. It will also describe the dynamic of organic farming advocacy Gratia Plena from the experiences of the DK members particularly in Barangay Balbalino and Barangay Guiset in the municipality of Guimba, Nueva Ecija. This will present the pros and cons of both synthetic and organic farming method.
The Catholic Social Teachings will be employed as the fundamental principles to evaluate the effectiveness of SAC-GP’s approach. These are the principles of the dignity of the human person, which is the very foundation and content of the Church’s social doctrine; the common good, subsidiarity, and solidarity. It will also integrate the relevance of the social teachings of the Church on their quest for better farming technology. At the same time look into the possible challenges and limitations of the Catholic Social Teachings in connection to the development for better farming alternatives advocacy. The social teachings of the Church as criteria for judgment on the method of agricultural development will also lead this paper to concrete directives for actions. This will be the practical approach in the promotion of a holistic and integrated human development in the quest for better farming technology.