‘Organic farming will make rice cheaper’

WHILE saying organically-produced agricultural products and byproducts command higher price, the price of rice, the country’s staple food, may eventually go down with farmers benefiting from lower production cost as they start to produce their own organic fertilizer.

In an interview during the “Go Organic!” TV program on NBN 4 Lawyer Efren Moncupa, lead convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said the price of organically-produced agriculture products should be lower than those produced using inorganic fertilizer.

Moncupa, a former agrarian reform undersecretary, reiterated his appeal to lawmakers to prioritize bills that promotes organic farming in the Philippines, which he said will be both beneficial to farmers and consumers.

He noted that some grocery stores have already put up an organic section where organically-grown produce, such as rice, but the price is relatively higher compared to others.

“The price of organically-grown produce should be lower because the production cost is much lower,” Moncupa said.

Farmer-leader Jaime “Ka Jimmy” Tadeo of Paragos-Pilipinas echoes Moncupa’s sentiment.

“Since production cost is lower, the price of rice should be cheaper,” Tadeo, the spokesperson of Go Organic! Philippines said.

The commercial price of organic fertilizer is P250 to P350 per 50-kilo bag compared to the price of inorganic fertilizer currently pegged at P1,500 to P2,000 per 50-kilo bag. A one-hectare rice farm requires around eight to 10 bags of inorganic fertilizer. On the other hand, the organic fertilizer requirement during the first year of transition is at 60 bags and diminishes to as low as 30 bags once soil fertility is restored.

“If the farmers produce their own organic fertilizers the cost is even cheaper. Lower cost of organic fertilizer inputs, means production cost is much lower. Eventually, farmers will be able to sell their produce at a lower price,” Tadeo said.

Go Organic! Philippines, a consortium of nongovernment organizations led by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and the La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI), is taking the lead in implementing Phase I of the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP).

This is in preparation for the immediate conversion of 10 percent of the 1.9 million hectares rice fields into organic farm sites.

The program promotes sustainable agriculture through organic farming in the Philippines, particularly rice, which is now considered the government’s key strategy to achieve rice self-sufficiency target.

Director Vince Tejada of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) said more farmers in different parts of the country will benefit from the program.

Tejada said the program will continue, expanding in areas not previously covered. He revealed that a team from the BSWM is now in the process of evaluating the implementation of the project.

Asked about the program’s implementation, Tejada said: “Ayos naman. Napakaganda at masaya ang ating magsasaka dahil ngayon lang nila nalaman na kaya nilang i- implement ang organic farming sa kanilang lugar,” Tejada said.

The BSWM monitoring team visited the organic demonstration farms in the six pilot areas in Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Albay, Camarines Sur, and Mindoro recently and is expected to submit its report and recommendation.

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