AGRICULTURAL MODERNIZATION RURAL URBANIZATION LAND CONVERSIONS AND FARMERS’ LIVELIHOOD IN LUCENA QUEZON A LOOK INTO THE DYING INDUSTRY OF COCONUT FARMING
PRYOR ALDOUS A. PLACINO
MS GEOGRAPHY (APRIL 2011)
Department of Geography
The Philippine countryside has been and continues to be rapidly transformed as it is integrated to world market economies and interlinked with urban processes and activities by multi-scalar plans, policies and programs. Vast tracks of agricultural lands have been reclassified and converted to non-agricultural uses to support the country’s drive toward industrialization and urban development while programs on agricultural modernization and agrarian reform are currently ongoing. The intersection of all of these national development activities creates contrasting situations and outcomes to the spatial and socioeconomic dimensions of the agrarian landscape at the local level.
The research examines the interface between studies of the coconut industry and rural development under the analytical lens of political ecology. It looks into the socioeconomic, spatial and ecological dimensions of coconut farming in Lucena City, Quezon as detailed by the voices from the margins—farmers whose concerns and stakes are often left unheard. Popularly known as the ‘City of Coconuts’, Lucena had almost 4000 hectares of coconut lands in 1977, but only 632 hectares by 2009. The study seeks to understand the economic, social, political and ecological dimensions of conversions of coconut lands to residential subdivisions. The research examines the impacts of land conversions to the livelihood systems of coconut farmers in two of Lucena’s barangays.
The research illustrates how farming communities that earlier depended on planting coconuts have been subjected to market fluctuations in the coconut industry. They have also been challenged by various complications resulting from the problematic ecology of coconuts and the social and power relations embedded in the cultivation of coconut lands. The livelihood systems of farmers are now being threatened by the current trend of urban developments in the city. Farmers’ adaptive livelihood strategies are now put to further risks. Thus, varied collaborations and conflicts between and among agrarian and non-agrarian actors have evolved as Lucena City undergoes a rapid agrarian transformation.