Marvin Joseph Montefrio* - SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
There is burgeoning initiative among governments and private companies to integrate smallholder systems, indigenous populations and ancestral lands with emerging networks of global agro-industrial production of "low-carbon" commodities (i.e. biofuels and natural rubber.) This phenomenon is particularly evident in the Philippines, with the emergence of relevant policies that encourage the production of these agro-industrial commodities for climate change mitigation and rural development. This paper draws from in-depth interviews with government and private company officials involved in biofuels and natural rubber production and content analysis of relevant government documents. It builds on recent scholarship at the intersection of Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD), political ecology and discourse analysis, in analyzing decisions of government and private company actors to integrate 'marginalized populations' and 'marginal lands' with global biofuels and rubber production networks. The paper argues that social constructions of ancestral lands and environments as being 'idle, marginal, and unproductive,' as well as indigenous peoples being 'indolent and impoverished,' help precipitate the 'smallholder-integrated' biofuels and rubber development policies and production regimes in outlying regions of the Philippines. These discourses are problematic, as they directly challenge and undermine the countervailing social-environmental constructions of most indigenous populations, thus leading to cases of erosion of traditional smallholder systems, exclusions and land grabs.