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Rebuilding Rural Paradise: Broken Food Economics of a Small Province in the Philippines

FLHAI aims to solve broken food systems in Quezon Province, Philippines; design waste out of the food value chain with regenerative systems.

Photo of Johnny Ramchand
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Federation of Lucena Homeowners’ Association, Inc. (FLHAI)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Other

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

1. Provincial and local government units of Quezon, 39 municipalities and 2 cities 2. 33 barangays in Lucena, 1,242 in the rest of the Province (A Barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines. The Filipino term for a village.) 3. National Government Agencies: Department of Trade and Industry/ Provincial Environment Management Bureau/ Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office/ Office of the Provincial Agriculturist-Quezon/ Department of Science and Technology 4. Academe/Research Institutions: Southern Luzon University/ Enverga University/ University of the Philippines Los Banos 5. Professional/Trade/Civil Society Organizations: Philippine Chamber of Commerce, Inc. Lucena City Chapter/ Tourism Organization of Quezon/ Quezon Medical Society/ SIPAG Lucena/ St. Vincent Foundation for Children and Aging, Inc./ Agricultural and Aquaculture Producers, Food Processors, and Food Retail Entrepreneurs

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Lucena City, Province of Quezon, Region 4A

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Republic of the Philippines

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Quezon Province in Luzon Island, an area of approx. 8,989.39 km². This includes Lucena City, an area of approx. 83.15 km².

What country is your selected Place located in?

Republic of the Philippines

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Lucena City in Quezon Province is our home. As a collective of middle-aged citizens and professionals, our individual narratives are encapsulated in one theme: we are unwitting players and witnesses to an urbanization that has sprung environmental degradation at a cost that our families and communities will have to deal with at greater magnitude in the future—a cost that we are now starting to pay for. 

We want to make our home sustainable and avoid going down a path that warrants inefficient and wasteful use of resources in our province. 

Now aware of the ill effects of social, economic, and environmental challenges facing us today, from consumption waste problems to unnatural food consumption habits, we are calling upon different sector players not only to rally behind our advocacy of sustainable living but to stand and act alongside us to mitigate the pressures of “prescribed development” as well as start pathways for designing our “whole-blended-balanced” life systems around our people, our food sustenance and the environment which we live in, with ecosystem exchanges more than economic exchanges alone. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Lucena City is a chartered and autonomous city in central Quezon, Philippines. From a pre-20th century maritime town, the municipality has grown to become the center of government, economic, and cultural activity in the province due to its industrial, manufacturing, service, and financial sectors.

Today, Lucena is an urbanized city that aims to become an Economic Zone. Its goal is to become a gateway from the southern provinces of Luzon to the National Capital Region, a megalopolis called Metro Manila.

Geography and Topology

Quezon, the sixth largest province in the Philippines in terms of land area, is located in Region 4A, or the CALABARZON Region in southern Luzon Island. 

Quezon’s topography is characterized by rugged mountainous terrain with few plains, valleys, and swamps. Only narrow strips of land are available for growing crops. The undulating lowlands along the coast sink into enormous bodies of water: Lamon Bay and the Pacific Ocean at its north and central east, Tayabas Bay at its central and southwest, Lopez Bay at its central east, and Ragay Gulf to its southeast. 

The mainland province is a narrow strip, averaging about 30 kilometers in width and approximately 300 kilometers in length. Of Quezon’s total 8,989.39 km² land area, 60% is agricultural land. The province has a total of 1,066.36 km of coastline.


The people of Quezon are ethnically diverse: 81% of the population are Tagalogs, while 11% are Bicolanos, 6% are Bisayas, and 2% consists of indigenous peoples. One common thread that binds us is food.

Quezon is well known for its coconut milk-based delicacies and Lucban longganisa, a Filipino sausage that has a mildly sour, garlicky taste. This goes well with steamed rice and fried egg, a combination that has been served many a time in Filipino families’ dinner tables for over a millennium. 

However, rapid urbanization and industrial development have led to food scarcity in the province. From upland indigenous farming communities to lowland urban citizens and impoverished lowland farmers and fisherfolks, citizens are faced with a looming crisis brought about by the current linear systems of food as an industrial commodity. 

Food, Food Trends, and Culture

Quezon’s traditional food is richly influenced by local ingredients found in the area, such as the coconut, which extracts can be found in different dishes. Traditional ingredients of these dishes are vegetables, marine plants, fish and pork. Rice is the staple cereal and is absolutely indispensable to every meal. 

Farmlands are the biggest source of income for the province’s rural population, which makes up 78% of the population, with 22% residing in Quezon’s two urban centers. With that being said, Quezon contributes the biggest rice produce in the region.

However, despite residents’ love for food, Lucena City records show that 36 tons—55% to 60% of the total garbage collected from within the city on a daily basis—come from domestic/household wastes. These wastes comprise of food and food plastic packaging. 

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Among most of us citizens, we have become only consumers of industrial food production, processing, and commerce. As such, we have become beleaguered with its consumption-only effects: waste from food production, its processing, and its commercial movement and access. Food consumption has become synonymous with inefficiency at detrimental costs, both at macro and micro levels, and onto household level: 

- waste and pollution along the entire food value chain, 

- marginal incomes or lack of disposable income because of rising food costs, 

- food inaccessibility including malnutrition and undernourishment, and lack of options for healthy affordable food, and 

- loss of regenerative practices in the responsible and optimal use of land, water, and other natural local resources. 

Food is life. Our life skills to produce, to create, or to innovate on practices along the food value chain have been diminished. We desire to determine what is best to live by, that which is beneficial for us now, and more so for the future of our people and our communities.

The over-centralization and specialization of food value chain systems in big industries and corporations have shifted focus away from our active participation around the food value chain. This is more true for marginalized people in our rural, upland, and coastal communities. 

Because livelihoods in agriculture, forestry, and fishing have become unstable and unsustainable, families in these communities seek opportunities for advancement and survival in urban centers within the province or in Metro Manila, exacerbating complex social and economic challenges of farm exodus and urban congestion, poverty, and environmental degradation.  

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

We are looking to develop systems and encourage practices to overcome challenges around these six themes: 


- Minimize the use of synthetic and plastic packaging, use natural and biodegradable packaging

- Educate or re-educate citizens to instill good ecologic farm to table practices, minimize plant by-product and consumption waste, and convert food-related waste into products for natural agricultural inputs (e.g., compost materials, biogas)

- Recycle for regeneration and ecosystem service exchange 

- Create a circular economy for non-biodegradable waste: less extraction and recycling/converting waste into new objects of value (e.g., residual plastics as inputs for durable and non-durable items)


- Transform food habits with interventions that promote healthy diets and meals from food system players

- Minimize the consumption of factory-processed foods by offering alternative natural foods in trade and retails channels

- Mitigate and end malnutrition and “hidden hunger,” or hunger suppressed by over-consumption of cheap, processed “junk” food devoid of essential nutrients 


- Develop alternatives: good practices, systems and habits around food economics

- Create innovation pathways for MSMEs and develop social or community-led enterprises around the food value chain (e.g., cooperatives, communes)

- Offer cooperative competition—“coopetition”—to traditional trade channels that today are controlled by only a few

- Strengthen current marketing strategies that alternative goods, products/services offer


- Harmonize and synchronize community and sectoral efforts along the circular economy around food where ecosystem and cultural exchanges can thrive


- Create policies to address land use problem: seek balance of land use between agricultural and urban use to address rural and urban population growth

- Address commoditized water resources/utility to open (and not limit) access to water for agriculture and urban use

- Diversify commoditized crop and plant by-products into multi-products (e.g., coconut from oil alone to food or other non-commodity products) 


- Increase endogeneity with balanced use of technologies, inputs, and practices with preference for indigenous materials and resources 

- High uptake of agriculture and food technologies including information technology

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

By 2050, the people of Quezon will have an abundant supply of healthy and affordable food sourced locally and grown regeneratively. Food that is produced by our people and communities working together.

Our programs will be assisted with cross-sectoral collaboration among government agencies, civil society and non-government organizations, academe and schools, and peoples’ organizations. Our programs and projects are aggregated and synchronized with an established distributive system of ecosystem service exchanges and environmentally-sound economic activities responsive to our people’s needs and their environment. 

All our actions will be dynamic and their outcomes will be open to continuous improvement.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The Ecosystem Exchange we envision for Lucena City and Quezon 

The concept of “Services to Ecosystems” (S2E) addresses the concept of Ecosystem Services (ES), widely understood as the “benefits that humans receive from the natural functioning of healthy ecosystems.” ES system practices are linear and unsustainable. This depicts a one-way flow of services from ecosystems to people. The S2E closes the loop of a reciprocal—the circular—relationships between humans and ecosystems.

We will use the best available nature-based sciences and tried-and-tested methodologies to apply; research and its applications with appropriate technologies that are downstreamed to farm-to-table actors and players. Working with our partners in the quad helix, we will create feedback loops, alongside activities (e.g., a hybrid “closed economy” for food, social enterprises, and its funding, policy, and governance) we will initiate to generate support for escalating or scaling up our vision. 

Three ambitions for a regenerative food system to build a circular economy for food

In our circular economy vision for food, we want to send clear demand and supply signals to our citizens and partners to support and be active players in regenerative production and better food consumption, we are turning by-products from food eaten in cities into natural and regenerative inputs for our own food gardens and for peri-urban farmers to use.

Urban policy levers for our circular economy transitions

Urban policies of Lucena City and Quezon will be aimed to improve policies for development of agriculture and aquaculture within city limits, within peri-urban corridors, and deeply considering regeneration of the province’s forests, farms, and coastal resources.

Food by-products transformed into a wide array of valuable products

Besides ensuring that edible food is equitably accessed by our citizens, there is no strict hierarchy to the remaining different product types. The choice of ‘best’ valuation option depends on the local context, including the type of available food resources and the demands for particular products and food services in our region.

Food design and marketing has the power to influence what we eat

Micro, small, and medium enterprises of food designers, food processors, and food intermediate retailers are enabled and have the power to ensure their food products and services, recipes, menus, and its packaging are healthy to both people and natural systems. Marketing activities can then be shaped to make these products attractive to people.

The totality of different types of food systems in different localities and contexts (i.e. multiple forms of “a food system”)

With multiple food systems, we recognize the huge diversity of food systems at different scales with differing characteristics. Industrial systems at a regional to a global scale that are balanced with parallel systems at a local neighborhood to provincial scale.

The Outcomes by 2050

- Alternative natural and nutritious foods are mainstreamed into the local markets

- More efficient practices and habits around food  (circular and regenerative: waste designed out from linear systems) in the food value chain (from producers to trade to intermediate consumers to household consumers)

- Diversified circular use of plant-based waste and by-products in the entire food cycle

- A thriving distributive network of communal agriculture and aquaculture systems: from community consumption and commercial production to harvesting and trading

- Food systems established as an ecosystem exchange that guarantees food accessibility, sustainability, and ecological balance. 

- Organized citizens, people and sectors who are both actors and designers of their respective contributions to the circular food systems of Lucena City and Quezon and the benefits derived from a sustainable ecosystem exchange.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email

Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.

The Refinement has helped open new pathways, and especially opportunities to collaborate with other sector groups and communities.

Another semi-finalist - Feeding Metro Manila in 2050  - also based in the Philippines have reached out. It is satisfying to see that even with different approaches to addressing the problem at hand, we are able to find common ground beyond just geographics.

We shared insights and ideas to the refinement of each other’s vision. Already, we are actively laying the foundation for future collaboration.

In the middle of a global crisis, there is space and opportunity for some sense-making.

We are compelled by a health emergency to transition away from today’s pattern of activities - now a universal vocabulary referred to as the “new normal”. This is a time to be proactive and deliberately trigger chains of positive effects: a future with a new shared reality and to collaborate more to develop our vision's functions and goals.

Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).

We reached out to residents in Lucena and in Lucban, a rural municipality. These are leaders of their respective homeowners' association. Five are in Lucena: Calmar, Pleasantville, St. Peter's II, Marville Homes, and the Executive Village; and in Lucban, the Kulapi Homeowners Association. The lockdown deterred us from meeting with other stakeholders outside of Lucena.

Three individuals team members are from the private sector: a food entrepreneur in Lucena and two from Manila who are members of the vision team. In the government sector: the Quezon Provincial Government Office, the Provincial Agriculturist Office, and staff members of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office in Quezon.  

Two are from the academe: an anthropologist from the Ateneo de Manila University in Manila and an agriculture senior academician from the National Academy of Science and Technology, the lead author of the Feeding Metro Manila in 2050 FSVP—also a semifinalist.

Details in attached file.

Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.

1. Weeks 1-2: FLHAI community members took stock of the requirements, identified and mapped our network of existing connections. To refine our work plan, we agreed to reach out to new cohorts of food actors and partners, to organize a local Makers’ Event, to broaden the reach of our Vision and gain initial traction. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the event when the pandemic spread and the entire Luzon Island went on lockdown on March 16.  

2. Confined to our respective residences, team members reviewed the Refinement Toolkit and began providing some initial inputs using online channels. This proved to be the first challenge; some participants had poor connectivity or were simply not Internet-savvy. We overcame soon enough, combining telephony, email, and Facebook to communicate.
This exercise fostered the development of deeper insights, despite the lack of personal interaction due to physical distancing measures. Moreover, the experience surfaced a profound sense of social cohesion among our communities. The most common realization was that "business as usual" is fragmented and yet volatile, and has created deep fissures in relationships between people and their behaviors toward food.

3. Early in the quarantine period, access to mainstream food markets was disrupted. In response, some community members decided to plant edibles or partake of food products from our existing community gardens. Others would produce, process, or even distribute food at less cost than in mainstream markets, acting as a middle link in the existing supply chain.

Much can be said about the pandemic experience, but one of our biggest learnings is that, from producer to consumer, disruptions like COVID-19 invariably create a heightened awareness of systems and inspire a firm resolve to make new pathways or improve on existing ones.  

What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.


Trends: About 36 tons of garbage collected daily in Lucena come from domestic/household wastes, ~50% being food waste. We need targeted interventions to arrest this. 

Signals: Lucena spends PhP1.9 million every month for solid garbage collection. Local leaders are working to address solid waste pollution and health hazards, with the environmental management office. 


Trends: Today’s local economy in Lucena and Quezon is heavily stimulated by the entry of big national and multinational agro-industrial and consumer goods retail companies. This is eating into farming and agricultural lands, as they are converted into housing subdivisions and industrial estates. Micro-enterprises are impacted, as well, pushing many poor people to the fringes.  

Signals:  In June 2019, we at FLHAI, together with the provincial DENR office, launched a multi-sectoral and -stakeholder project called Sustainable Regreening and Art of Composting or SRAC. 

In this initiative, Lucena citizens and community leaders work with the provincial government, to address local economic challenges from a largely food perspective. As one example, our organization rallied homeowners and villages in Lucena to address the problem of solid waste pollution. This proved to be an effective entry point for introducing a local food system.

TECHNOLOGY & ITS UPTAKE (Knowledge and Know-how)

Trends: Food is personal, but maybe not for long. From farming and production to processing and distribution, automation is believed to be the future of food. But at what cost?

Signals: There is an impending transformation in how food will be prepared, processed, and distributed. Many look to high technology, particularly automation, as the primary solution. How will this affect the food industry? Will jobs, and the people that hold them, be rendered obsolete? 

CULTURE & DIETS (Socio-Anthropological Facets)

Trends: Commensality can be one of the few things left to bind modern families: preparing and cooking food, taking a meal together, and even after-meal chores of cleaning up. But the perpetual race for food security has an insidious but invisible effect on the family unit. The old tradition of shared meals are now “lost suppers”. 

Signals:  There is increased awareness of how food practices can bring about social decay and health deterioration. We know that the food we eat today, if unhealthy, will have future costs to our well-being and and to the environment. The challenge is in encouraging families to embrace caring behaviours. Here is where the chain of change starts.


Trends: Policies around food are mostly based on food security through economic growth. Stimulus packages focus on restoring consumption levels and rebalancing the job market. Communities are not at the center of this design.

Signals: Communities in Lucena have started to voice their concerns and also act on issues that affect them, as demonstrated by our experience with the SRAC initiative.

Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).

Our Picture of the Future: A Family and Community Archetype in 2050 

Ben is 94 years old. Retired for the last 30 years, he lives in a housing subdivision in Lucena City with his wife Tuding, and their son Joeven. They are joined by Joeven’s wife Rachel and daughter Sa1m (34 years old, single, a human ecologist). 

Ben and Joeven own a small computer shop within the same subdivision. With 10 sets of computers running on solar batteries, the shop is generating enough income to defray the family's rising cost of living. 

Sa1m has just started teaching permaculture at the village’s nursery school, where she herself spent her early learning years. As a student here in her nursery years, she first learned about the interrelatedness of food, the environment, and the well-being of Lucena and Quezon, Her Lolo Ben was the education sector lead for FLHAI, his platform for introducing ideas to help educate nursery children about caring for their environment.

Ben wakes up in the morning appreciating the backyard vegetable garden he had been tending for 30 years. The produce for today’s breakfast he would harvest from his garden the day before. 

Sa1m returns at lunchtime (work is a 10-minute walk away from home) to prepare a quick lunch for herself and her grandparents. This is supplemented by preordered home-cooked meals prepared by young, work-from-home entrepreneurs - participants in the community economic and ecosystem exchange (C3E) system, which was formed some 20 years ago. 

Delivered in biodegradable bamboo lunch boxes to their doorstep, the meals are cooked using fresh produce harvested from the nearby communal edible garden. How does Ben's household afford these delivered meals? They pay in part using their own household’s composted waste; the rest of the bill is paid in cash to support the neighborhood enterprise. The micro-entrepreneurs in turn support the maintenance and management of local communal gardens from their profits.

(see full version as attachment)

Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?

1. Mainstreamed practice of S2E (human reciprocity with nature), starting with permaculture that services our entire ecosystem

2. Minimized use of synthetic and plastic packaging, replaced by more natural and biodegradable packaging

3. Ecosystem-intelligent citizens on good practices in ecologic farm-to-table lifestyles; minimized plant by-product and consumption wastes; increased recovery of household food waste, agricultural and marine wastes, which are then converted into compost and products for natural horticultural and alternative agricultural inputs and energy (e.g., soil nutrient, biogas for small scale energy requirements)

4. Sequestered carbon and conserved resources (e.g., rainwater catchments in urban homes); agroforestry/reforestation; urban agriculture and community horticulture; planned agro-industrial or commercial agricultural farm zones with proper waste management protocols and implementation of such protocols

5. Established circular economy for non-biodegradable waste generated in extraction of natural resources; wastes recycled/converted into new objects of value (e.g., residual plastics as inputs for durable and non-durable items)

6. Regenerated ecosystem with service exchange; reduced carbon footprint of farm-to-table practices; environment and wildlife at sustainable levels through continued rehabilitation, protection, and conservation

7. Diffuse urban areas with suburban, peri-urban buffer zones from rural environs

8. Community-managed watersheds and river systems (Mt. Banahaw de Lucban watershed, Dumaca and Iyam Rivers in Lucena, possibly watersheds in Quezon Sierra Madre Range)

Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?

1. Minimized consumption of factory-processed foods, using behavioral incentives and disincentives and greater availability of inexpensive alternative healthy/natural foods in trade, retail, and intermediary channels (e.g., school canteens, slow food shops, neighborhood kitchens, restaurants, convenience stores)

2. Institutionalized food and nutrition education: wellness and health training combined with "home food economics" in schools and villages, to increase the knowledge, tools, and built capacities of individuals to practice good nutrition; increased research and development in food nutrition technologies for tighter integration with home food economics

3. Mainstreamed "prosumerism": Consumers empowered with greater choices and capacity to produce their own food and/or access from local food systems and value chains; trade channel layers and links collapsed or shortened between food consumers and producers

Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?

1. Availability of equal work opportunities along the food value chain within communities, cutting across age groups, genders, social status, traditional education level achievement

2. Access to action labs for local entrepreneurs, to create "go-to-market" innovation pathways for MSMEs, allowing the development of social or community-led enterprises around the food value chain, and aggregation into cooperatives or communes

3. Greater balance through calculated growth and balancing loops in economic and financial activities, starting with smallholder-farmers' viability and stability of incomes of consumers

4. Location of innovation incubation via "learn-by-doing" platforms within schools and communities; empowerment of aspiring food system actors and entrepreneurs, ecosystem-intelligent thinkers, producers, makers, and consumers. 

5. Cooperation and collaboration with food sector players, particularly traditional or big trade channels players; "Coopetition" (balanced competition) where C3E System dominates or at least coexists parallel to other systems.

6. Strengthened middle-of-the-chain marketing - accurate information communicated on accessible media platforms (like town halls or neighborhood interaction hubs) to promote alternative food, goods, products, distribution modalities, and provisioning of environmentally responsible food allied services (transport, storage, retailing, packaging)

7. Advanced and widely practised regenerative economy: "closed-loop" economies with differentiated markets between commercial and home or community consumption, based on exchange of currency, physical goods, or a combination

8. Reinforcement to sustain positive behaviors (whether highly centralized, distributed, or diffusive) to benefit socio-economic systems, first at the province’s community level

Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?

1. Closer integration of household, community, and sectoral efforts in an inclusive circular and gift economy designed around food -  ecosystem, community, intergenerational knowledge, and cultural exchanges thriving alongside the C3E System 

2. Permanently modified community narrative into a "prosumer" culture (through continued "learn-by-doing" education), promoting responsible regenerative behaviors and actions and eliminating consumption-only paradigms

3. Systematic support for "communities working with communities" provided by extra-institutional programs of community networks (i.e., communities of practice/interests, schools, church and the family - the basic unit of society)

4. Local cultures are balanced with, instead of being transplanted by, the advances and shifts in inter- and intra-culture and trans-generation influences (e.g., technology-enabled daily practices such as use of mobile phones; regional transmigration, foreign influences; neo-globalization)

5. Shifted responsibility of community resilience onto neighborhoods, communities, localities, families, and individuals, to reduce reliance on the government and institutions

Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?

1. Increased use of rediscovered or emergent endogenous technologies and local innovations, with greater preference for indigenous materials and resources; balanced with the use of exogenous technologies, tools, inputs, and practices
2. Application of natural sciences (e.g., permaculture; biomimicry) in food production, processing, storage, and preparation; open access to scientific research and development in the form of designs, processes, and products
3. Wider use of advanced technologies vis-a-vis indigenous knowledge and tools: Telemetry as an Internet of Things (IoT); end-to-end user or object applications in feedback loops (e.g., SMS-based data gathering and retrieval; data-driven decision-making) for increased efficiency in delivery of products, services, and interventions

Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?

1. Policy making, planning, and implementation on comprehensive land use, with greater involvement of the local community; more balanced use of land between agricultural and municipal or city spaces; ecosystem sustainability practices in rural and urban population growth and development; public register of available land (with provisions for distributing robust land patents or tenurial rights) earmarked for creating "food system banks" within local communities 

2. Diversification of commoditized crop and plant by-products into multi-products (e.g., coconut from oil alone to food or other non-commodity products) 

3. Provincial and municipal policies based on the belief that natural resources are public goods, instead of being fully commoditized into utility services, to allow for fair, public access to water for agriculture and urban use

4. Development policies promoting ecosystem exchanges as a valid form of exchange, wherein goods and services are valued without discounting costs of long-term effects and impact on the ecosystem; greater control over agricultural and industrial energy use that cause depletion of soil nutrients, due to rampant use of pesticides; programs to actively reverse imbalances in biodiversity, pollution, and global warming causing emission of greenhouse gases

5. Market incentives and disincentives: promotion of "ease of doing business"; food waste and solid waste taxation and S2E credits; regional tariffs on food and importation, sustainability reporting (including traceability, carbon accounting, and biosafety) in the business permits process; business zoning; micro-financing and program-funding 

Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.

A Balancing Act: A future food system wherein all of earth’s living organisms, and us, are able to thrive.

Our Mantra: Nurture and sustain a food system that is deliberate, distributive, and regenerative.

Service to Ecosystems: A distributed, closed-loop system that functions on Service to Ecosystems (S2E).

New Models: Communities working under a quad helix model for innovation for knowledge-based development. People at the center.

Diversity: Lessons Relearned: Putting our "eggs in many baskets"

Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.

Moving from here to our future food vision will not be a straight line. Along the way, there may be liminal spaces wherein we are held back by old beliefs and practices but driven by our desire to realize our envisioned food system: 

1. Carrying capacity. Governments, both current and past, have attempted to decongest Metro Manila, by urbanizing nearby regions and creating new hubs of industrialization, to invite city dwellers and overseas workers to reside and seek employment in the suburbs or rural areas. This has been a slow, uphill battle, and even if successful, such programs will require new infrastructure that can marginalize and threaten the livelihoods of indigenous and local communities, the sanctity of forest space, and the health of rural environments.

2. Industrial vs. non-industrial economic practices. Creating food systems will not be starting from the ground up. There are existing systems in place, each with its own set of rules that will be difficult to displace or replace. Some kind of hybrid economy might serve as an initial compromise, but as they say, you need to break a few eggs to make an omelet. What are the right scales, how do we pick the right localities to operate the C3E System? Will old market dynamics prevail? Changes in policy and legislation may include: 

2.1. Control: How to allocate and regulate natural resources

2.2. Production: How to convert natural resources into usable commodities

2.3. Exchange: How to distribute commodities across social strata and geographies (local, regional, national, international)

3. Establishing these rules at scale for economic exchange from local levels to regional and national levels could affect: 

3.1. Socio-economic and political reciprocities: from general rules of reciprocity to balanced rules of reciprocity in the exchange of goods and services between two partners

3.2. Redistribution: establishing cross-municipality social centers for the distribution of goods and the impact on existing public markets and traders

3.3. Market exchange: currency and valuation; determining market varieties 

3.4. Impact of disruptive events: unforeseen externalities driving human behavior and survival instinct; economic downturns; local and global geopolitical shifts

3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?

1. Community models of federated subdivision homeowners across Lucena have positive outcomes with the C3E System and are gaining traction. Cooperatives, communes, and social enterprises are on the uptick across the food value chain. Most of these enterprises are started by young adult and middle-aged entrepreneurs.

2. Community models are scaled within Lucena and the C3E System is modeled in non-urban agricultural localities in Quezon. The scaling up are collaborations among quadruple helix players in Quezon and are part of our growing network of partners. 

3. Provincial government policies that will support practices of the C3E System are taking shape in provincial policy discussions. Our vision's initial programs such as food and nutrition community education, permaculture, and environmental management are mainstays of Lucena City's and the Quezon's programs. 

Food and solid waste will have been minimized from 2020 levels. A circular practice for conversion of non-biodegradable materials is picking up with small community enterprises. Products from these conversions are flowing into the market, such as houseware durables or high value artisan handicrafts, or as garden plant containers to meet demands from household and community gardens.

10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?

1. Programs of national government agencies, through its local or extension offices are responsive and supportive of the growing practice of the envisioned local food system. In the same vein, provincial policy on food, agriculture, land use, and business are gaining traction with all the rest of the citizens in Quezon. Networks of communities and communities of practice are on the rise in the province.
2. The C3E System in Quezon is able to parallel with, not adverse but complements the existing systems. Early challenges encountered in the earlier years were pivoted to adapt to unforeseeable events.
3. Growth and stability in Quezon of family or community enterprises along the food value chain are becoming pronounced.  Municipality centers are established to serve as agro, fishery, or forestry trading hubs and its rural communities as socio-economic feeder spokes. Embedded networks within networks of communities are organically formed and established.

If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?

1. To provide seed funds for “action laboratories" that will incubate community enterprises aligned with our future food vision

2. To fund research, discovery, and codifying local practices to create a body of knowledge that we can grow, share, and bequeath to the next generation of community leaders, who will realize our food system vision by 2050 

3. To implement FLHAI programmatic activities: network creation and network relationship building; informal education and skills training; scaling out impactful community models; promotion and expansion of local food systems to the entire city and province (alongside development programs at the provincial and national level, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Program for Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Development). 

If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?

Our approach to realizing our food system puts communities at the center. They make the vision work.

The Rockefeller Foundation FSVP 2050 gave us the tools to understand and assess the state of our society and identify the ways to uplift our people, community, and society. As another vision semi-finalist said, who now is a member of our team, "win or lose in the Prize, let's work together."

This is our journey with the Rockefeller Food System Vision Prize process:
Visioning. Networking. Vetted and tested Truth-Telling. Learning and doing with others. And most of all, a heightened ability to love and care again for life in all its forms.

Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.

Food Security in a Time of Coronavirus

Today is a wakeup call in the middle of the night, a piercing signal that very few could have foreseen, a preview to the effects of future disruptions.

Could we have avoided it? Can we get past it?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Eufemio Rasco

Hi Johnny and Albert,
It occurs to me that Lucena is a major fish port and it is facing a body of water that is deemed suitable for mariculture. Indeed, there are designated mariculture parks in the area. I wonder if you can include mariculture in your food system vision.
Another possibility is a food packaging industry based on forest products such as bamboo and rattan.Quezon is a hilly province with biological resources suitable for making baskets and similar products. This will replace the plastics.
Just some ideas for whatever these are worth.

Photo of Albert Borrero

Hi, Dong, Eufemio Rasco 
Thanks for surfacing ideas in these two areas: fisheries and food packaging. I'd raise these with people in FLHAI about how mariculture parks can deeply play into their food vision.
They had been floating other kinds of ideas around fisheries. One of these is the use of organic wastes from fish processing as a base material and an alternative to plastic-based food packaging. This is an area where FLHAI probably can, in the future, seek guidance or assistance from DOST.
The craftsmanship of basket-making using bamboo and other plants, like nipa, is now only practiced by an older generation, much like rural farming, and is vanishing. Allied skills and industries around food, re-discovering bag- or basket-weaving, would be necessary to revive, and coupled with deliberate regrowing of plants (such as bamboo, nipa, and coconut). Finding efficiencies in their use as a source for food and as natural food packaging or containers is a way to go.
Again, thank you, all ideas worth considering! ---- Albert

Johnny Ramchand 

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