Archive for May, 2009

Samal Mayor wants Bataan town declared an ‘organic zone’

MAYOR Rolando Tigas of Samal, Bataan wants the entire town to go organic and is spearheading the move to convince farmers to shift from conventional to the more sustainable organic farming to boost farmers’ income.

In an interview over the Go Organic! program aired over DZRB “Radyo ng Bayan”, Tigas said he has asked members of the Municipal Council to pass several resolutions in support of organic farming.

These include resolutions declaring the Municipality of Samal an organic zone, declaring one day every week as organic farming day; promoting, developing and assisting organic farming in the Municipality of Samal, and declaring a portion of Samal Public Market for wholesaling organic agricultural products.

These pieces of legislation, he said, will boost current national government effort through its NGO partners to promote organic farming in Samal, as well as its neighboring towns in the province of Bataan.

At least 50 farmers from Samal recently completed a three-month training process on organic rice production, including organic fertilizer production under the Organic FIELDS Support Program Phase 1.

After their training, farmers will be able to produce their own organic fertilizer using animal manure, carbonized rice hull, rice stalks and other agricultural wastes which they can use in their farm.  Organic farming is being eyed as solution to the problem posed by the skyrocketing cost of agrochemical inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, and will significantly help reduce air, water, and soil pollution, thus benefiting farmers not only in terms of increase in income, but in terms of health and environment.

Samal, Bataan is one of the seven pilot areas where a one-hectare organic demo farm was put up for the Farmers’ Season-Long Training, one of the components of OFSP1.

OFSP1, a project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), is being implemented by a consortium of nongovernment organizations under the banner of Go Organic! Philippines.

Go Organic! Philippines lead convenor Atty. Efren Moncupa lauded Tigas’ initiative, saying such boosts the on-going campaign for farms in the Philippines to go organic.

“Local projects initiated by the national government have better chances of success when it harnesses the support and cooperation of LGUs and their constituent stakeholders,” he stressed.

Moncupa, a former agrarian reform undersecretary, earlier called for local governments to join the organic bandwagon and support efforts to promote organic farming in the Philippines.

“Without LGU support, programs and projects of the national government will not succeed,” he said.

Led by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and the La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI), OFSP1 aims to promote organic farming in the Philippines, six hundred farmers were trained on various organic farming systems and technologies, including organic fertilizer production in preparation for the massive shift to organic farming.

The DA is eyeing to expand areas covered by organic farming to reach 400,000 hectares by 2010.

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Go organic, reduce carbon footprint, fight climate change – group

FARMERS and consumers can actually help fight global warming and cushion the impact of climate change by going organic, which substantially reduce the country’s footprint or greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.

Isagani Serrano, acting president of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines, said by using less chemical fertilizers in their farms, farmers actually help reduce greenhouse gas emission, which contributes to global warming.

Serrano said excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is responsible for the degradation of the air, soil and water quality.  But more importantly, such practice is responsible for the carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

Agriculture, he said, contributes 30 percent of the total, greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

“If farmers will use organic fertilizer instead of chemical fertilizer, this will result in substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, thus contributing to the global initiative to fight climate change,” Serrano said.

Consumers, meanwhile, can actually help reduce carbon footprint by adopting an organic lifestyle, he said.

He said consumers can help fight climate change by conserving energy, such as using less electricity and fuel and gas, and water consumption.

Serrano has been visiting farmers in seven pilot areas in six Luzon provinces covered by the Organic FIELDS Support Program Phase 1 to issue the challenge of sustaining the gains of the project.

OFSP1 is a partnership project of the Go Organic! Philippines and the Department of Agriculture (DA) under the leadership of Sec. Arthur C. Yap and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), which aims to promote organic farming.  At least 600 farmers were trained on various organic farming systems and technologies, including organic fertilizer production during the season-long training, in preparation for the immediate conversion of 400,000 hectares of rice fields into organic farm sites by 2010.

Meanwhile, during the Organic 101: Experiencing an Organic Way of Life event held at the PRRM Building in Quezon City on Friday, Odette Alcantara of Mother Earth Foundation cited the significance of having a “zero-basura” lifestyle and supported the initiative to go organic.

Known for her advocacy of promoting waste segregation through recycling, reusing and composting, Alcantara said saving Mother Earth starts at home, with parents teaching their children discipline through proper waste segregation.

During the same event, Agapito Milagroso, an organic farming practitioner and a member of the national training pool of Go Organic! Philippines said 70 percent of household wastes are actually kitchen wastes which are biodegradable material.  He said such virtue in waste reduction can be applied well in farms, by making use of agricultural wastes such as animal manure, rice straw and rice hull, and other biomass, as compost material for the production of organic fertilizer.

Similarly, he said households can make use of their kitchen wastes as natural fertilizers, allowing farmers to substantially cut production cost in their farm and thus resulting in substantial increase in their income.

Even those living in urban areas, the consumers of food produced by farmers can also make use of kitchen wastes to grow vegetables in their own backyard or even a pot of soil, and can actually help fight global warming and climate change, he said.

RP a potential supplier of unpolished, organic rice

ORGANIC farming advocates are eyeing to carve a niche in the global organic food market through the supply of unpolished rice organically grown by farmers in the Philippines.

Atty. Efren Moncupa, lead convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said through organic farming, the country can be a major supplier of unpolished rice at the same time producing organically-grown rice enough for local consumption, especially for subsistence rice farmers who continue to bear the brunt of the high cost of fertilizer prices.

Rice is unpolished when the whole grain of rice, from which the germ and outer layers containing the bran were not, removed.  Traditional way of removing the hull using mortar and pester carved out of wood to remove rice hull makes rice unpolished.

Modern rice mills use machines that remove the outer layers that contain the bran.

“The Philippines can produce and supply unpolished organic rice to other countries,” Moncupa, a former agrarian reform undersecretary who is now with the Malasimbu      Agricultural Cooperative said.

Unpolished rice contains Vitamin B. Thiamine, Niacin, Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine and Vitamin K, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium, Fat, Carbohydrates, Protein and Calories.

Unpolished rice is healthier as it provides all necessary carbohydrates requirements needed for the body. It is rich in fibers, helps control blood sugar and cholesterol, and is known to be beneficial for stomach and intestinal ulcers and for diarrhea.  Because of the mineral content, it supplies important nutrient for the hair, teeth, nails, muscles and bones.

According to Moncupa, organic farming, which makes use of organic fertilizer which is a lot cheaper than chemical fertilizer, will eventually make rice cheaper and more affordable for the poor.

“Ideally, because the production cost of rice is low, the cost of rice in the market should also be low,” Moncupa said.

Roland Cabigas, Managing Director of the La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI) and a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said they are eyeing to bring down the cost of rice to the price level of that sold by the National Food Authority (NFA).  The cheapest rice sold by NFA, the country’s food agency, is P18.25.

This will eventually be possible, Cabigas said, through expansion of areas devoted to organic rice production.  “If more farmers start to adopt the practice of producing their own organic fertilizer, the areas devoted to organic rice production will eventually expand, thus ensuring the price of organic rice at affordable level,” he said.

According to Cabigas, areas devoted to organic rice production can be expanded by utilizing idle agricultural land in the country.  He cited a study commissioned by LLPI, which revealed that more otherwise productive agricultural land are left inadvertently or otherwise idle by farmers because of various reasons, particularly the failure of local of government units to impose taxes on such idle lands.

“Through organic farming, these idle agricultural lands can be utilized, thus ensuring enough supply for local consumption and possibly, some for export such as unpolished rice,” he said.

Go Organic! Philippines is a consortium of nongovernment organizations led by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement and the La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI).

The group is taking the lead in implementing the Organic FIELDS Support Program Phase 1 (OFSP1), a partnership project with the Department of Agriculture (DA) under the leadership of Secretary Arthur C. Yap and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) which aims to promote organic farming in the Philippines.

Book on organic farming launched

A book compiling the best practices on sustainable agriculture, particularly palay, was recently launched to help farmers shift from chemical-based agriculture to the more sustainable organic farming.

The book “Likas-Kaya at Organikong Pagsasaka ng Palay” authored by Dr. Oscar B. Zamora, dean of the Graduate School of the University of the Philippines – Los Baños and a professor of the UP Los Baños College of Agriculture based in Laguna is primarily designed for farmers.

Written in Filipino, the book’s features 15 chapters, which serves as a “step-by-step” guide to the practice of organic farming systems and technologies, including organic fertilizer production, which the farmers can apply to help them convert their farm into a purely organic farm site.  The 196-page book also features colorful pictures and illustrations.

“This will help farmers veer away from agrochemical-based farming and shift back to organic farming,” he said during a brief speech at the book launch which highlighted the Organic 101: Experiencing the Organic Way of Life event.

Organized by the Go Organic! Philippines led by Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and the La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI) in Quezon City last Friday, the whole-day event held at the PRRM Building featured various organically-grown agricultural products and byproducts, as well as alternative health and healing practices.

A consortium of nongovernment organizations, Go Organic! Philippines is now aggressively promoting organic farming in the Philippines and is currently taking the lead in implementing the Organic FIELDS Support Program Phase 1, a partnership project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM).

The book was among the reference materials used in the Farmers’ Season-Long Training, one of the three major components of the OFSP1.

The book is a compilation of some of the best practices in organic farming.  Some have been the practice of farmers for more than two decades and was validated by experts from UPLB, Zamora, an organic farming advocate, said.

Copies of the book are available at the La Liga Office with contact number 433-7875 and can be downloaded from the Go Organic! Philippines website – http://www.goorganicphilippines.org.

DA affirms commitment to organic farming to cover 400,000 hectares

AGRICULTURE Secretary Arthur C. Yap is confident of hitting its target of covering 400,000 hectares of agricultural land as organic farm sites by 2010, citing the support and cooperation of various stakeholders and partner-nongovernment organizations in implementing its various projects.

In a taped interview featuring him in the Go Organic! television program aired on NBN Channel 4, Yap said the DA will establish a total of 2,600 organic production sites in different parts of the country and will continue to provide training to farmers on organic fertilizer production to empower farmers to produce their own organic fertilizer from various materials such as animal manure, carbonized rice hull and rice stalk using various organic farming systems and technologies.

He said the DA has tie ups with local government units, farmers’ organizations, state colleges and universities, church, NGOs and people’s organizations to help boost food production, as well as farmers’ income through various livelihood opportunities.

The DA, through the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), the Federation of Free Farmers and Centro Saka-Alyansa Agrikultura, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), the La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI) and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Foundation is aggressively promoting organic farming, particularly in palay.

Yap said a total of 600 farmers have completed the Farmers’ Season-Long Training under the Organic FIELDS Support Program Phase 1 in seven pilot areas in six provinces in Luzon, namely Alaminos City, Pangasinan, Samal and Dinalupihan, Bataan, Guimba, Nueva Ecija, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, Baao, Camarines Sur, and Tabaco, Albay.

The first phase of the OFSP, which is now on its final stage completion, is being implemented by Go Organic! Philippines, a consortium of NGOs led by PRRM and LLPI.

In addition, he cited that the Federation of Free Farmers had already established 79 organic techno-demo farms in 26 provinces while Centro Saka-Alyansa Agrikultura had established 120 hectares of organic rice demo farms in 10 provinces in Mindanao, and trained 420 farmers on organic rice and organic fertilizer production.

“I believe that the cooperation of the DA, LGUs, NGOs, and POs in promoting organic farming using organic fertilizer is a big step towards achieving our target in increasing food production and farmers’ income,” he said.

Atty. Efren Moncupa, Lead Convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said the successful implementation of the project is a big step towards achieving the DA’s vision of sustainable agriculture.

“With farmers learning how to make their own organic fertilizer, areas devoted to rice production, even vegetables, will eventually expand because organic farming does not really require big capital which farmers do not have,” he said.

Go Organic launches “Organic 101: Experiencing the Organic Way of Life”

ORDINARY people, including those living in Metro Manila, can start their own organic farm, and can easily learn the basics in organic farming.

In a statement, Lawyer Efren Moncupa, lead convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said by starting their own organic farm, people can actually start enjoying a healthier lifestyle, starting with eating healthier food – or food produced without the aid of chemical fertilizer and chemical pesticides, and heal various ailments naturally through the food.

Moncupa issued the statement as Go Organic Philippines launches today the Organic 101: Experiencing the Organic Way of Life on May 8, 2009 at the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) located at No. 56 Mo. Ignacia Avenue corner Dr. Lascano St., Quezon City.

Organized by the PRRM and the La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI), the whole day event features sharing and lecture sessions on “Starting Your Own Organic Farm” with Go Organic! Philippines National Trainors, and promote various alternative health, medicine and healing practices associated with nature.

The sessions will help interested individuals get started with their own organic farm through sharing on basic farm planning, organic fertilizer production and natural pesticides control.

For those living in Metro Manila, a session dubbed “Urban Composting and Gardening” with Odette Alcantara, Earth Day Network will prove that solid waste management is easy.

Another session dubbed “Vermiculture and Livelihood Possibilities in Organic Fertilizer Production” with Tony and Beth de Castro of the Earthworm Sanctuary will teach about the greatest organic farmer on earth — the earthworms!   Mr. And Mrs. De Castro will share how they started with their lucrative business of organic fertilizer production and organic vegetable farming together with what they call the “earth angels”.

The event also features “The Food Alphabet: Keeping Healthy with Indigenous and Earth-friendly Foods” with Ms. Ines Av. Fernandez Executive Director of ARUGAAN.  ARUGAAN is an NGO that has been described as a day care center like no other. A staunch advocate of breastfeeding and earth-friendly and indigenous diet for children, Arugaan disabuses the minds of young parents who have begun to believe the media hype that there is substitute for natural foods.

Meanwhile, another session dubbed “Healing through Food: A Personal Experience on Food’s Healing Wonders” with Ms. Lovelynn Juan, Doc Susan’s Kitchen and Clinic.

Ms. Juan is a survivor of the chronic disease known as lupus, through nutritional healing. Lupus, the disease that led to the death of Former Pres. Marcos, is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and can damage internal organs, often leading to a number of related health complications.

Dubbed as “A Sneak-peak on How to Prepare Delicious and Healthy Foods with Ms. Lisa Dacanay, development worker as well as a practicing vegan, will debunk the common notion that having healthy and nutritious food is difficult to achieve in our fast-paced modern lives. She will demonstrate easy-to-prepare recipes and share tips on how to get high nutritional and satiety value without the stress in preparations, Moncupa said.

Agerico Valdez, Municipal Administrator of Baras, Rizal a traditional Healing Practitioner, will give an overview of alternative traditional healing practices.

Valdez, former president of OPTA and now the main mover of organic agriculture in Baras, Rizal, will share the various traditional healing practices. He also operates a healing center in the said municipality.

On the other hand, Dr. Ellen Pedrosa, Executive Director of AltHealth, a health care organization which offers alternative treatments to its clients, will discuss during a session “Alternative Health Care.”

Ginhawa Creative Healing Rituals for the Self and the Earth with Ms. Leah R. Tolentino, Balay Ginhawa, meanwhile will promote an embodied process that nurture the body, recognizes its healing potential and channels well-being energy for the self, kapwa, and the Earth.

Tolentino, is a Professor of Creation Spirituality at the Asian Social Institute

and Director of GINHAWA.

Also to be featured is the session dubbed “Body Talk: The Language of Health” with Girlie Villariba, a Body Talk Practitioner.  Body Talk is a revolutionary form of alternative healthcare that utilizes the body’s natural ability to heal itself. BodyTalk works with the built-in wisdom of the body to re-synchronize so that every part of your body works together.

This re-synchronization allows us to reconnect the lines of communication of our body so that your level of health improves.

Meanwhile, Tetada Kalimasada with Pilatih Nasional Mars Robosa, will also highlight the event.  Tetada Kalimasada is of Indosenian origin which started off as martial arts. Like most martial arts, there is a level wherein the practitioner is taught healing techniques. In Tetada Kalimasada, the emphasis is more towards healing through a combination of traingular breathing techniques, movements (called jurus), and meditation (called tafakur).

Moncupa said all these traditional and alternative healing practices leads to good health, which is just one of the many benefits of going organic.

“By going organic, we can actually enjoy life,” Moncupa ended.

Advocates eye increase in palay production through organic farming

ORGANIC farming advocates are confident of increased palay production through natural farming, or without those petroleum-based chemical fertilizers citing cases in Bulacan, Bataan and Pangasinan where harvests have exceeded modest targets and expectations.

“Through organic farming, we can actually lower production cost without sacrificing yield.  We can even increase our palay production if we do it right,” lawyer Atty. Efren Moncupa, lead convenor of Go Organic! Philippines, said.

Go Organic! Philippines, a consortium of nongovernment organizations led by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI) is currently taking the lead in implementing the first phase of the Organic FIELDS Support Program, a partnership project with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM).

The group is pushing for the massive conversion of conventional farms into organic farm sites in the country and has successfully completed the training of 600 farmers in six provinces in Luzon namely Oriental Mindoro, Bataan, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Albay and Camarines Sur.

Moncupa said farmers who shifted from conventional farming to organic farming five years ago reported increases from 20 percent up to 142 percent.

Roland Cabigas, Managing Director of LLPI said organic farming or the production of rice, vegetables and other agricultural food products is gaining ground, and is actually creating its own market, citing strong demand for such by hotels and even specialty restaurants that offer such “healthier” food.

In Danalupihan, Bataan, Moncupa, an organic farming practitioner said farmers are already convinced of using animal manure, carbonized rice hull and other agricultural wastes as organic fertilizer.  More farmers, he said, shunning away from conventional farming, citing economic reasons.

“Organic farming does not require big capital unlike unconventional farming, wherein farmers need to buy eight to 10 sacks of chemical fertilizers, to produce the same yield of about 80 cavans of palay,” he said.

Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza, a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said farmers who have been practicing organic farming in his town reported increase in palay production of up to 142 percent.

A former secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Braganza has been promoting organic in his town since winning the mayoralty race in 2004, encouraging farmer to gradually shift from conventional farming into balanced fertilization, and now purely organic farming.

Agapito Tugade, a farmer from Alaminos City, Pangasinan, said at first, shifting from conventional to organic farming will result to production shortfall, but the succeeding years will be a different story.

He said while his yield dropped to 60 cavans of palay per hectare when he first tried organic farming in his farm, the yield the following year is better, reaching up to 72.5 cavans of palay.  After three years, he said his 7,000 sq. m farm was able to exceed the 80 cavans average yield of conventional farms.  “My income is better, because in conventional farming, you pay for the expensive fertilizers unlike in organic farming, you can produce your own fertilizer using animal manure and carbonized rice hull, which is cheaper and sometimes available in your farm, free,” he said.

Jaime Tadeo, chairman of Paragos Pilipinas said his 1,000 sq. m rice farm in Plaridel, Bulacan continue to surpass the 4.2 tons per hectare produced by other rice farmers in his town.