Archive for August, 2009

Gov’t push needed for Philippine farms to go organic – group

MORE and more farmers are convinced of the economic benefits of going organic but the government needs to be more aggressive in promoting such sustainable agricultural practices for farms in the Philippines to go organic, organic farming advocates said.

“If we really want farmers to shift to organic farming, we need to give them the assurance that the government will support them all the way,” Atty. Efren Moncupa, lead convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said.

Moncupa, a former agrarian reform undersecretary, said after the successful implementation of the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP) Phase 1, more and more farmers have decided to adopt an organic way of life, by producing their own fertilizer and pesticides.

OFSP, a project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) aims to promote organic farming in the Philippines.

Through the project, which was launched by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap in November last year, 600 farmers in six provinces in Luzon namely Albay, Camarines Sur, Oriental Mindoro, Nueva Ecija, Bataan and Pangasinan were trained on various organic farming systems and technologies in preparation for the immediate conversion of 400,000 hectares of agricultural land into organic farming sites by 2010.

Phase 2 of the project is currently in the pipeline.

Moncupa said despite the farmers’ newly-acquired technical know-hows in organic farming, those who want to go organic still lack the capacity to do so.  Farmers, he said, can not adequately produce organic fertilizer they need for their farms because they have no equipment to use, particularly for the production of organic fertilizers.

Among the equipment farmers will need to produce their own organic fertilizer are shredding machine to produce biomass, a makeshift oven for the production of carbonized rice hull.

“How can farmers put to practice what they have learned from their training if they do not have the equipment they need?” Moncupa said.

The farmers who completed the training early this year, Moncupa said, are eager to teach other farmers what they have learned for them to adopt or shift to organic farming.  The problem, he said, is the continuity of support provided by government.

Go Organic! Philippines, a consortium of nongovernment organizations that promote organic farming is eying an expanded coverage of the project to hit the DA’s own target, which is to cover 400,000 hectares of land by the end of 2010.

The group believes that organic farming will help farmers cope with the current global economic crisis and impacts of climate change and will help address the country’s food security.

“By going organic, more and farmers who have previously abandoned their farms because of the high cost of doing business will find farming profitable.  With more farmers planting rice, crops and vegetables, agricultural production will increase, which means more food for the people,” Moncupa said.

“The reason for slow rate of adoption of organic farming is the lack of continuous government support,” Moncupa lamented.