BUDGET activists are throwing their support behind the proposed National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by Malacanang through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the DA’s 2012 budget for organic agriculture which they said will help boost organic farming in the Philippines.
Roland Cabigas, managing director of the La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) and a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said as far as the push for organic farming is concerned, the DA’s proposed budget for 2012 is laudable.
Under the NEP for 2012, the DA’s budget this year of P37.4 billion will increase to almost P50 billion, P927.2 million of which is for the promotion of organic agriculture in the Philippines.
The amount, Cabigas said, will greatly boost organic farming in the Philippines which promotes environment-friendly food production practices which the country needs to invest in to help cut its carbon footprint and help address the challenge of climate change.
Such budget, he said, should be used to provide various support services, training, research and development, marketing and packaging assistance, including subsidy to farmers who will shift to sustainable organic and ecological agriculture to boost the country’s organic industry.
Cabigas added that the increase in budget also means additional resources for a comprehensive effort to educate and push a for shift to organic lifestyle among urban consumers which buys the bulk of agricultural commodities that come from the rural areas.
Resource mobilization and the efficient utilization of government resources for agricultural development is part of the overall campaign to achieve food and staple sufficiency within the term of Pres. Aquino.
“We appeal to our honorable members of Congress not to touch the proposed budget for the DA’s organic agriculture program and support organic farming by approving the new budget line item as proposed in the NEP for 2012,” Cabigas said.
Cabigas lauded the DA led by Sec. Proceso Alcala, an organic farming practitioner himself, for being faithful to his commitment to support the push to have a separate budget line item exclusively for organic agriculture as reflected in the NEP 2012.
La Liga, which acts as the convening organization of the Alternative Budget Initiative – Environment Cluster (ABI-Envi Cluster), believes that organic farming promotes sustainable, organic and ecological agriculture consistent with the AgriPinoy program of Pres. Aquino.
As part of its budget advocacy, La Liga which took part in the crafting of the implementing rules and regulation of Republic Act 10068 otherwise known as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 pushed for the provision mandating the DA to allocate at least 2 percent of its annual budget exclusively for the implementation of organic agriculture programs.
The campaign for the shift to sustainable organic and ecological agriculture and its funding is consistent with La Liga’s call for a more climate sensitive 2012 budget which calls for increased public investment for environment-friendly way of doing agriculture.
A development policy research and advocacy nongovernment organization, La Liga is aggressively promoting organic farming in the Philippines. In 2009, La Liga and the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) led a network of citizens’ groups, academic institutions, local government units and the private sector under the banner Go Organic! Philippines in implementing the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP).
The program popularized organic farming in six provinces in Luzon, wherein 600 farmers who completed a season’s long training, a major component of the program, are now practicing and teaching other farmers how to go organic.
Through its partner-LGUs under the One Pangasinan Alliance of LGUs (LGUs), La Liga was able to institutionalize local funding in support of organic farming, particularly in Western Pangasinan.
In Pangasinan, La Liga is implementing the Organikong Palayan – Pangasinan in partnership with the DA Regional Field Unit 1 and the local government units of Alaminos City, Bani, Burgos and Dasol.as part of the DA’s overall strategy of attaining food and staple sufficiency within the term of Pres. Aquino.
The program takes off from the various “organic” initiatives of the participating LGUs with the hope of encouraging more farmers to shift to sustainable organic and ecological agricultural model and veer away from the conventional agricultural model that is highly dependent on often harmful petroleum-based chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Under Organikong Palayan – Pangasinan, 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.
Cabigas stressed that Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, Republic Act 10068 recognizes the urgency of shifting to a sustainable organic and ecological agriculture model to increase rice production and productivity in the long run, boost farmers’ income, promote better health for farmers and consumers and increase soil fertility by arresting the degradation of the environment.