Archive for July, 2011

DA-LGUs-La Liga launch ‘Organikong Palayan’ in Pangasinan

The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Friday formally set in motion a one-year program to promote the shift from conventional to organic rice production models in four pilot areas in the province of Pangasinan.

DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and DA Region 1 OIC Regional Executive Director Renato A. Maguigad led the launching of the program dubbed “Organikong Palayan – Pangasinan” during simple rites in Alaminos City.

The project will be implemented by the La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) in partnership with the local government units of Alaminos City and the municipalities of Burgos, Bani and Dasol.

Local chief executives of the four LGUs namely Mayor Hernani A. Braganza, Mayor Marcelo Navarro (Bani), Mayor Alberto Guiang (Burgos) and Mayor Noel Nacar  (Dasol) have committed to promoting sustainable, organic and ecological agriculture in their respective localities as a strategy in pursuing local economic development.

A member of Go Organic! Philippines, La Liga aggressively promotes organic farming in the Philippines.  La liga managing director Roland Cabigas said  the program is part of the DA’s strategy of attaining food and staple sufficiency within the term of Pres. Aquino.

Cabigas said the rice subsector alone employs around four million farmers and farm workers.  Land planted to rice covers approximately 40 per cent of the total land cultivated, or approximately 4 million hectares of the 10 million hectares of land devoted to food production.  However, despite its (rice) significance, the Philippines is a rice-importing country.

 “Clearly, a concerted effort to increase rice productivity is imperative. This is the challenge faced by sustainable agriculture,” Cabigas stressed.

He said different studies on agricultural productivity specifically on rice production cited numerous reasons from a plagued policy environment to dwindling public investments in agriculture as the reason for the poor performance of the rice sub sector.

“This exposes the fact that the gains and promises of rice productivity of the prevailing production model have been short lived. A shift in production methods and systems is crucial to achieving the country’s rice self-sufficiency and food security goals,” he said.

The DA secretary, during the launch, ordered the RFU 1 to ensure the timely release of the progam’s fund for various activities which aims to enhance the capacities, provide production support, and to institutionalize programs and budget for the promotion of sustainable agriculture among participating LGUs, in line with the Agri-Pinoy Program of the DA.

Braganza, a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines, said the program takes off from the various “organic” initiatives of the participating LGUs with the hope of encouraging more farmers to go organic.

Also the secretary general of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), Braganza hopes that the benefits of such program on organic farming will radiate in other cities and municipalities in Pangasinan and the Ilocos Region.

La Liga expects the project to be replicated in other towns of Pangasinan and the Ilocos Region, in view of the province`s role as one of the leading agricultural commodity producers in the country.

The DA Secretary was in Alaminos City as guest of honor of the event dubbed “Farmer – Fisherfolk Assembly held at the Alaminos Sports Center, wherein the country’s food czar presided  the rolling out of  DA projects for the province of Pangasinan, one of which is the Organikong Palayan.

The DA is promoting responsible consumption and production to achieve food self-sufficiency.  Aside from the production of brown rice, it is also promoting the cultivation of white corn, sweet potato or commonly called camote, and cassava, or more popularly called balinghoy in the Visayas or kamoteng kahoy in Luzon.

 “Organikong Palayan – Pangasinan” seeks to promote organic farming as mandated by Republic Act 10068 – in this case, rice in the four pilot areas.  Through the project, proponents aim to encourage the shift to sustainable agriculture practices among farmers, mobilize support from local governments in terms of policies, programs, and promote sustainable agriculture as a key strategy for local economic development.

Through the project, farmers will be mobilized through barangay assemblies, targeting a total of 1,400 farmers, to rally support behind the DA’s sustainable, ecological agriculture initiative.

A total of 280 farmers will also undergo season-long training on organic farming of rice in eight learning farms, two learning farms for each of the project areas, to be put up for the purpose.

Alaminos, Bani, Burgos and Dasol are located in Western Pangasinan and are members of the One Pangasinan Alliance of LGUs, an economic alliance that promotes resource sharing for local economic development.

Otherwise known as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, Republic Act 10068 recognizes the urgency of shifting to an organic agriculture model to veer away from the excessive use of agrochemical inputs used in conventional farming systems.

Advertisements

Food self-sufficiency, nutrition security through sustainable organic agriculture pushed

ORGANIC farming advocates are pitching calls for food self-sufficiency and nutrition security through sustainable organic and ecological agriculture and back the decision of the Department of Agriculture to cut down rice importation to protect local rice farmers.

Roland Cabigas, managing director of the La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) and a convener of Go Organic! Philippines said limiting the volume of imported rice and pushing for rice self-sufficiency is the way to go.

He issued the statement following DA Secretary Proceso Alcala’s optimistic projection that the DA may be further reducing the country’s rice import quota, and start exporting “brown rice” to other countries because of the projected increase in rice production this year owing to the favorable weather condition and various intervention of the government.

La Liga also supports the strategy to promote the production of brown rice, or unpolished rice, which reduces postharvest losses in palay to help increase rice production

However, Cabigas said more importantly, there is a need to boost rice production by encouraging more farmers to cultivate rice through the shift to sustainable, organic and ecological agriculture, veering away from the excessive use of expensive, and often harmful chemical fertilizers that prevents resource-poor farmers to do business in agriculture.

 “At a time when the country is still struggling to become rice self-sufficient, we need to protect farmers to make them more competitive,” Cabigas said.

La Liga nixes calls by some quarters to lift the quantitative restriction on rice which will allow the importation of rice by the private sector without limits.

With the quantitative restriction on rice in place, the importation of rice into the country is subject to a 40-percent tariff and duty-free importation is limited to a concessionary amount of only 360,000 metric tons a year.

The current extension of the quantitative restriction on rice is set to expire next year.

It was extended by seven years in 2005, after the expiration of a 10-year rice quota under Annex 5 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement.

“As it is already, trade liberalization is killing the agriculture sector and taking away this level of protection will further weaken Philippine agriculture, particularly the rice subsector,” Cabigas said.

Cabigas added that once quantitative restriction on rice has been removed, there is no guarantee that regional and multilateral negotiations through the WTO to impose higher tariff on rice and other agricultural products, will favor developing countries like the Philippines, noting how “powerless” the ones with weaker economies appear to be in negotiating for fair trade against stronger economies.

La Liga said the Philippines should seek an extension of the country’s quantitative restriction on rice until 2015, while the government steps up programs to achieve rice self-sufficiency, and nutrition security, “rather than being food secured through massive rice imports.”

Cabigas said government intervention in agriculture and fishery is crucial to pump-priming the economy under globalization.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is confident that the Philippines will achieve its target of becoming rice self-sufficient by 2013, noting that the Philippines has in fact reduced rice importation by two-thirds already in 2011 compared to 2009, when the Philippines landed on top of the list of rice-importing countries.

A development policy research and advocacy nongovernment organization, La Liga is pushing for sustainable organic and ecological agriculture in the Philippines and the production of ‘healthier’ food through organic farming.  It is aggressively supporting the shift from chemical-intensive farming to the more environment-friendly and low-carbon food, production practices in organic or natural farming, as well as organic way of life among consumers.

 “What we need is more time to level the playing field starting with being rice self-sufficient, first and foremost,” he said.

Along with the campaign to go organic, which will allow resource-poor farmers to do business by producing their own organic fertilizer which they will use; the campaign to produce and consume brown rice and food diversification, an effective information, education and communication campaign to promote responsible production and consumption, will also help do the trick, Cabigas said.

Rather than anchoring its hope on imported rice and other food products, Cabigas said the government should pour its resources in support of small farm holders, the backbone of Philippine agriculture, for them to become more productive and competitive.

La Liga Policy Institute pitches call for ‘food self-sufficiency, nutrition security’

THE La Liga Policy Institute (Liga) is pitching calls to promote food self-sufficiency and nutrition security through sustainable organic and ecological agriculture and nixes import dependence as a way of ensuring the country’s “food security.”

A member of Go Organic! Philippines, La Liga rejects the idea of lifting the quantitative restriction on rice by some quarters, saying that prematurely doing so at a time when the Philippines is still struggling to become rice self-sufficient, will do more harm than good to the economy.

Roland Cabigas, its managing director, said La Liga supports the call to seek an extension of the country’s quantitative restriction on rice until 2015, while the government steps up programs to achieve rice self-sufficiency, and nutrition security, rather than being food secured through massive imports.

He said government intervention in agriculture and fishery is crucial for broad based growth with equity and will allow the country compete under globalization.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is confident that the Philippines will achieve its target of becoming rice self-sufficient by 2013, noting that it has in fact, reduced rice importation by two-thirds already in 2011 compared to 2009, when the Philippines landed on top of the list of rice-importing countries.

The quantitative restriction on rice prevents cheap, imported rice from flooding the local market.   The downside of lifting such import limit is the weakening of the agriculture sector and compromising the interest of our agricultural producers particularly the farmers, Cabigas stressed.

A development policy research and advocacy nongovernment organization, La Liga is pushing for sustainable organic and ecological agriculture in the Philippines and the production of ‘healthier’ food through organic farming.  It is aggressively supporting the shift from chemical-intensive farming to the more environment-friendly and low-carbon food production practices in organic or natural farming, as well as organic way of life among consumers.

With the quantitative restriction on rice in place, the importation of rice into the country is subject to a 40-percent tariff and duty-free importation is limited to a concessionary amount of only 360,000 metric tons a year.

The current extension of the quantitative restriction on rice is set to expire next year.

The restriction was extended by seven years in 2005, after the expiration of a 10-year rice quota under Annex 5 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement.

“As it is already, trade liberalization is killing the agriculture sector and applying certain limit offers some level of protection to small farm holders,” Cabigas said.

Developing countries like the Philippines are unable to compete against highly developed countries that provide massive support to their agriculture sector even under liberalized trade, Cabigas said.

“What we need is more time to level the playing field starting with being rice self-sufficient, first and foremost,” he said.

According to Cabigas, the DA is on the right track in promoting sustainable organic and ecological agriculture, along with the campaign for the production and consumption of brown rice, and food diversification, which will help ease the pressure on rice.

He said an effective information, education and communication campaign to promote responsible consumption, such as eating less those often imported white rice or well-milled rice, and eating more the brown rice, white corn, and root crops such as sweet potato or commonly called camote and cassava, also known as kamoteng kahoy or balinghoy, will help do trick.

Rather than anchoring its hope on imported rice and other food products, Cabigas said the government should pour its resources in support of small farm holders, the backbone of Philippine agriculture, for them to become more productive and competitive.