Archive for June, 2010

Advocates urge P’Noy to institutionalize funding for RP’s organic agriculture

WITH the passage of Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, organic farming advocates are now pitching calls for the much-needed funding to ensure its implementation by the incoming administration of President-elect Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino II.

Go Organic! Philippines, a consortium of nongovernment organizations led by the La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) and the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) called on Aquino and his would-be alter-ego in the Department of Agriculture (DA) to ensure that the law will have corresponding fund or budget for its effective implementation.

“We don’t want the law to end up like the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, which gets no substantial funding for its implementation,” Roland Cabigas, managing director of La Liga and co-convenor of Go Organic! Philippines, said.

The group, which successfully implemented the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP), a national organic program that promotes environment-friendly food production issued the call ahead of the scheduled regional consultation being initiated by nongovernment organizations for the crafting of the implementing rules and regulation (IRR) for RA 10068.

The regional consultation sponsored by the Office of Congressman Alcala, among the principal authors of RA 10068, and will be facilitated by La Liga and PRRM.

Around 70 representatives of organic farming NGO stakeholders are expected to take part in the activity dubbed “Consultation on the RA 10068 Implementing Rules and Regulations Formulation for CALABARZON and MIMAROPA Regions” to be held at the Pueblo Por La Playa in Pagbilao, Quezon on June 25, 2010.

The activity, Cabigas said, is a pre-requisite for the crafting of the law’s IRR, which is supposed to be conducted on or before July 26.  The draft IRR is supposed to be submitted to Congress by October 25 – or within the 90-day prescription period after the law was signed by Pres. Gloria Arroyo on April 6, 2010.

Through the regional consultations, Cabigas said they hope to get the consensus of various stakeholders, particularly farmers engaged in organic farming, on how the law is supposed to be implemented and funded by the government.

“Implementing rules and regulation requires budget institutionalization by way of coming up with a regular budget line for organic farming – including training, promotion, production and marketing,” he said.

He added that while the law will take effect right after the IRR has been signed this year, funding for its implementation in the amount of P50 million annually begins only next year.

He said there is a need for P’Noy and his would-be secretary to allocate fund from, possibly, the P500 budget for Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) program for rice for 2010 to “start the ball rolling” and fund programs, citing the need to go organic especially when the country is starting to feel the adverse impact of global warming and climate change.

The law seeks the development and promotion of organic farming, or a chemical-free agricultural method in the country.  It establishes a comprehensive organic farming program, which includes incentives for farmers engaged in the production of agricultural crops free from harmful chemical pesticides and fertilizer.

The new law also creats a National Organic Agricultural Board (NOAB) to provide policy direction towards the promotion of organic farming in the Philippines.

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‘Noy urged to use budget for GMA – Rice Program to boost organic farming in RP

ORGANIC farming advocates are pitching calls for the conversion of more farms into organic farm sites with the promotion and development of organic fertilizers all over the country.

Roland Cabigas, Managing Director of La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) and a co-convenor of Go Organic! Philippines, said President-apparent Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and his alter-ego in the Department of Agriculture (DA) should be able to effectively utilize a substantial portion of the P3.5-billion fund under the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) for Rice to promote organic farming, particularly for the country’s staple food.

At the same time, he said the P500 million intended for the promotion and development of organic fertilizers in the 2010 National budget should be used to sustain the gains of the Organic Fields Support Program (OFSP).  The P500 million intended for the promotion and development of organic fertilizers represents approximately 1.27% of the total new appropriations for the DA for 2010.

“An important program such as the promotion of organic farming which promotes sustainable agriculture through environment-friendly ways of producing food on our table deserves a bigger share from the DA’s budget,” Cabigas said.

The first phase of OFSP, which aims to promote organic farming in the Philippines, was implemented by Go Organic! Philippines.  Through OFSP1, 600 farmers went under season-long training on organic farming, from production of organic fertilizer, to application in various organic farm sites in six towns and cities in Luzon.  The group is now pushing for the implementation of the second phase of the program.

According to Cabigas, the budget should be used to promote organic faming, by funding programs geared towards research and development, training, extension, promotion and marketing support.

Cabigas said one way of teaching farmers how to go organic is through season-long trainings where farmers are trained how to make their own organic fertilizer using raw materials that can be easily found in their farms, apply them in their own farm, and in the end impart their knowledge to other farmers.

He also said that since each area is unique, he said research and development should be conducted to determine what organic farming system and technology is best applied in a particular area.

The DA, he said, should work to strengthen the agricultural production systems and livelihoods of the resource-poor farmers to address food and nutrition security problems using organic agriculture framework.

It should also improve the efficiency and sustainability in the production, processing and marketing of key agricultural commodities to provide options and provide local communities with site-specific solutions to food and nutrition insecurity due to climate change, globalization and environmental degradation, he said.

According to Cabigas, such programs requires sufficient funding which is at the disposal of DA chief.  “What Sen. Aquino should do is to make sure that the DA secretary utilize available funds to promote organic farming,” he said.

La Liga, which acts as secretariat of the Go Organic! Philippines, believes that going organic will lead the country into a low-carbon development path in the face of global warming and climate change.

“Organic farming promotes ecologically-sound food production practices.  By simply veering away from excessive use of often harmful chemical fertilizers that pollute the environment, the Philippines will be able to contribute to the global action against climate change,” Cabigas said.

Go Organic! Philippines said organic farming will benefit farmers through increase in incomes, health while making the environment safer and better without those harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides polluting our farms.