Archive for February, 2011

Going organic will make PHL agriculture stronger, better – Go Organic! Philippines

VARIOUS stakeholders stand to greatly benefit in terms of income, health and environment with the government’s push to make Philippine farms ‘organic’, advocates said.

While the benefits may not be immediately felt, Go OrganicPhilippines! stressed that the benefits of sustainable, organic and ecological agriculture will have a long and lasting effect that will ensure food self-sufficiency and make the agriculture sector stronger in the long run.

Go Organic! Philippines, a coalition of nongovernment organizations, citizens groups and organic farming advocates and individuals, issued the statement to debunk claims made by the top biotechnology expert of the Department of Agriculture (DA), that the country’s food security will be adversely affected by the passage of the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, thus the need for its thorough review by lawmakers.

The group was referring to a statement made by Dr. Saturnina Halos, head of the DA Biotechnology Advisory Team during a briefing on modern biotechnology for the members of the city council at Marco Polo Davao Hotel yesterday pursuing organic agriculture to the exclusion of other methods can impede the government program to improve crop production in the country.

“Let us study the legislative measure. If all farmers would go on organic agriculture, it would be difficult to ensure food security. Organic crops could yield less than the crops that undergo with technology,” the report quoted Halos as saying.

Roland Cabigas, a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines and managing director of the private think tank la Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) said the law merely seeks to promote organic farming to veer away from the excessive use of chemical inputs that continue to pollute the soil, air and water.

Cabigas said the Philippines is in fact on the right track in promoting organic farming, which is backed by the measure and its implementing rules and regulation.

“Nothing can be safer than producing our food naturally,” Cabigas said.

Cabigas said research and development should focus on how to improve food production, particularly rice, less those often harmful chemicals which make farms addicted to fertilizers to be productive.

The law and its implementing rules and regulation, Cabigas added, addresses the issues and concerns raised by various stakeholders in the organic agriculture subsector, such as funding support for the DA’s various organic farming programs that build on past gains and experiences initiated by the government in partnership with Go Organic! Philippines and other NGOs and citizens’ groups, to produce ‘safer and healthier” food.

For his part, Dr. Oscar B. Zamora, an agriculture expert and a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines representing the academe stressed that reductions in yield in shifting from conventional to organic farming is normally experienced only on the first to the second years, depending on how poisoned and degraded the soil and crop environment are.

He even noted that there are farmers in Baras, Rizal and Tayabas, Quezon who reported that their yields and income increased after shifting to organic farming.

“Usually on the third year onwards, increases in yields begins after the soil and environment have already recovered from poisoning caused by excessive use of chemical fertilizers, as well as pesticides,” Zamora, currently the dean of Graduate School at the University of the Philippines Los Baños College said.