Archive for June, 2011

Explore, lead the ‘shift’ to sustainable, organic and ecological agriculture, vets urged

La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) president Horacio “Boy” R. Morales Jr asked the country’s veterinarians to consider and explore the shift towards sustainable, organic and ecological agriculture to positively contribute to the over-all growth and development of the agriculture sector and the country.

Morales, a former agrarian reform secretary, said there are clear social and economic opportunities in undertaking the shift to a more environment-friendly food production practices where animal doctors, through the poultry and livestock subsector can factor in.

According to Morales, the flailing agriculture sector can in fact be revitalized with the Philippines carving a niche in the global organic food market noting that with the increasing demand for healthier food by a more health-conscious generation of today, the opportunity is limitless.

Speaking before the 39th Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines Annual Scientific Conference held at the H2O Hotel at the Luneta Park in Manila, Morales said the passage of the Organic Agriculture Law is one of the most recent “exciting” developments in Philippine agriculture.  The event was participated in by 300 veterinary practitioners and experts from all over the country.

La Liga, a development policy research and advocacy nongovernment organization, is actively promoting sustainable, organic and ecological agriculture through organic rice farming.

In partnership with several NGOs, academe, local governments and farmer organizations, La Liga implemented a national program to promote an organic farming and lifestyle called Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP) under the banner of Go Organic! Philippines.

“There is now a demand for organically grown, organically raised, naturally farmed chicken, pork and fish and its by-products such as eggs,” he said.

Morales also expressed appreciation of the efforts of the current administration of the Department of Agriculture led by Sec. Proceso Alcala who has set in motion the Agrikuluturang Pinoy program.  Alcala, an organic farming practitioner himself, is supporting organic agriculture.

While saying that the organic food market in the Philippines is still small, it is nevertheless growing fast.

“Market size is now estimated at around US$ 30 million.  The export market, of course, shows a growing potential with market size estimated at over US$ 2billion mainly in the US, EU and Japan,” Morales said.

Together with other NGOs and agri-traders, La Liga has formed a partnership with the ETON commercial center in QC, part of the Lucio Tan group of companies, for a weekly organic night market known as the Organic Food Bowl Network, to promote local organic food and food products.

“For me, a clear policy and program shift towards sustainable, organic and ecological agriculture is a strategic move towards revitalizing our flailing agriculture industry and a broad strategy for growth and development in the sector,” he said.

According to Morales, at center of the failed agriculture programs is the failure of modern conventional agriculture under the so-called “Green Revolution”.

Sustainable, organic and ecological (SOE) agriculture, he said, can improve farm productivity, address poverty and generate more jobs and livelihood opportunities.

Apart from contributing to agricultural productivity, SOE agriculture also minimizes health risks of farmers that are repeatedly exposed to toxic and hazardous materials resulting from conventional chemical intensive farming practices, he said.

Lastly, Morales said making available agricultural products from sustainable, organic and ecological agricultural practices, also promote over-all food and nutrition security of the country, citing for instance a shift to unpolished rice can have an immediate impact on the rice stock, consequently, the boosting the achievement of the rice self-sufficiency targets of the country.

With SOE farming and production systems combined with traditional and indigenous farmers practice and knowledge, the coping and adaptive capacity of farms in building resilience to climate related impacts can be increased and the vulnerability and risks can be spread and minimized, Morales added.

To promote on a nationwide scale the shift to sustainable agriculture, the necessary package of public investments must be made available, policy tools implemented and appropriate incentives provided to farms, whether small or commercial, and to agriculture practitioners who will undertake the shift to SOE agriculture as well as incentive mechanisms for SOE product wholesalers, retailers, buyers and consumers.