Organic Farming goes to Baras and Tavabas
UPLB-NEDA Agri project
BY HANS AUDRIC B. ESTIALBO
Back in 2005, the authorization of Executive Order 481 titled “Promotion and Development of Organic Agriculture in the
Philippines” further fortified the need for an information system for organic agriculture. Signed last August 2006, the rules and regulations specified that the secretariat of the National Technical Committee nd the National Organic Agriculture Board, is lodged with the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards.
Organic farming in the country has also improved since the demand for organic produce has skyrocketed for the past few years. Thanks to different organic markets in the Metro and bagsakan centers in rural areas that now, promote and give organic farmers a chance to sell their products.
Take for instance Baras, Rizal. Mayor Wilfredo C. Robles and Councilor Ramon A. Matignas Jr. were once anxious about the low income of farmers in the town, despite its abundant area for farming.
Farmers in their area had been discouraged because of this, and have also dissuaded their children from following their footsteps.
Robles has expressed his frustration over Baras’ idle lands, compounded by the fact that 45% to 50% of its population of 38,000 are farmers. This was partly why they passed Resolution No. 138-5-04, which made them the first organic town in the Philippines.
“This is why organic farming was ideal for the Baras farmer,” said Dr. Blesilda M. Calub of the UPLB Agricultural Systems Cluster and the project leader of the UPLD-NEDA Organic Vegetable Production Project, ‘Enhancing Production and Profitability of Market-Oriented Organic Vegetables in CALABARZON’, One reason is that the demand for organically-grown vegetables is high. Another is that it does not require much capital.”
This agri project, which supported by RP-Japan Grant Assistance for Underprivileged Farmers through the NEDA Region TV-A is coordinated by principal cooperating agencies, DA RFU W-A, DTT TV-A and DOST TV-A and is presently being implemented by UPLBFI.
It has been their aim to augment
production and productivity of market-oriented organic vegetables in special areas of CALABARZON through systems approach and synchronized participation among stakeholders and to create partnerships with farmer groups in these three areas.
In Baras, Rizal, the KAKASA (Kasamahan sa Kalikasang Pagsasaka Multipurpose Cooperative) initially involved i active organic vegetable farmers.
The TAFFA (Tayabas Federation of Farmers Association) initially started with 20 farmer leaders who also grow vegetables. Both organizations are encouraged by their particular local government
executives, Mayor Wilfredo Robles of Rizal and Mayor Dondi Silang of Tayabas, Quezon. Rosario, Batangas’ Municipal Agriculturist has also formalized the farmers’ association of 20 vegetable growers through the Barangay Agriculture and Fisheries Council.
Meanwhile, STIARC (Southern Tagalog Integrated Agricultural Research Center) provides seeds and other important farm inputs.
Establishment of techno demo farms, capacity building, production of IEC materials, market positioning, procurement of farm equipment and field supplies, standardizing products and procedures and complying with certification systems are just a few of the activities that the project involve, the duration of which is limited to two years, making the sustainability aspect one of its more important components.
Calub continued, “Organic farming has lots of benefits, as we know. The yield increases. In conventional farming, you kill the organism, which takes time to revive fertility. This is why the organic method is being blamed for initial low yields. But the yield is premium safe produce, without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.”
Organic farming endorses environmentally, economically and socially sound production of food. With organic farming, the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, livestock feed and additives and genetically modified organisms (IFOAM) are irrelevant.
Additionally, Calub and her team have conducted training programs for agriculture teachers so they could orient their students early on about organic farming. This, they imagine, would motivate children to be next generation organic farmers while farmers today are getting older.
Together with the DepEd’s Alternative Learning Systems for the out-of-school youth in Baras, they have also began a mentoring project where farmers from Kakasa will be assigned to lead and tutor two to three OSYs in practical organic vegetable production.
Calub added, “Some farmers have a wait-and-see attitude. What we would like to take care of are those farmers who have started doing organic farming so they don’t revert to conventional ways. That’s why apart from technological know-how, we work closely with the local government and other government agencies. We are also tapping private companies to assist in marketing aspects to make organic vegetable production profitable for small farmers.”
At present, NEDA Reg. IV-.A is working at generating more project proposals from target proponents. This can be done through advocacy to LOUs, NGAs, Development Councils, SUCs, etc.
For further information, contact (o49)-5363229 to 2459.
Source:Marid August 2009