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Manila Bulletin : Marcos eyes PH organic farming road map

News & Interviews
24 November 2021

By Melvin Sarangay | Manila Bulletin

Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard-bearer Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. is looking to establish a comprehensive organic farming plan that will truly be useful to Filipino farmers.

The Presidential aspirant noted that there has been a slow growth of farm lands turning to organic farming despite the enactment of Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010.

“The law mandates that the government has to promote, propagate, develop further and implement the practice of organic agriculture which will cumulatively condition and enrich the fertility of the soil, reduce pollution and destruction of the environment, and prevent the depletion of natural resources,” the former lawmaker said.

“But the promotion of Organic Agriculture in the Philippines faces many challenges such as policy gaps, lack of production support, promotion and awareness activities; fragmented and inadequate research and development, extension and capability building activities; and poor market systems. Kailangan may clear and comprehensive framework o roadmap para mahikayat ang ating mga farmers at mangingisda na subukan ang organic agriculture. Baka meron ding naging pagkukulang doon sa batas kaya hindi natupad ang hangarin nito (We need a clear and comprehensive framework or roadmap to convince our farmers and fisherfolks to try organic agriculture. There may be a shortcoming in the law which led to its unfulfilled mandate).”

According to a 2011-2017 data from the National Organic Agriculture Program, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, the total organic agriculture area in the country is about 349,041.28 hectares, which is equivalent to 4.86 percent of the total agricultural area of 7,165,815.61 hectares.

Farmers who have turned into organic farming are currently facing problems like insufficient supply of organic fertilizers, tiresome farming practices and additional capital to meet the labor needs.

The former Ilocos Norte solon, however, is optimistic that a better roadmap for developing organic agriculture is now possible with President Rodrigo Duterte signing into law RA 11511, which amended the Organic Agriculture Law.

The amended law identifies ‘participatory guarantee systems’ as a credible and affordable way to approve organic produce. Under the old law, Section 17 states that only products certified under third-party certification could be labeled as organic, which was a key concern because it restricted small farmers who could not afford third-party certification but were practicing organic farming.

“Organic farming is beneficial because it maintains and improves fertility, soil structure, and biodiversity, and reduces erosion. It also reduces the risks of human, animal, and environmental exposure to toxic materials. But if all farmers abruptly adopt zero use of chemical fertilizer, yields may drop which could put our food supply at risk. That’s why we need to have an effective agriculture program that recognizes the actual conditions of most farmers and supports a movement to shift from chemical-based production,” the former senator stressed.