Posts Tagged ‘Organic Lifestyle’

Photo Release, October 14, 2010

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala (third from left) receives a framed photograph of different colored rice and varieties from convenors of Go Organic! Philippines as a token of appreciation for his support and commitment to promote organic farming during a recent dialogue at Panggo’s Grill and Restaurant on Timog Avenue, Quezon City.  In photo are (L-R) La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) president Horacio “Boy” Morales, La Liga managing director Roland Cabigas, Alaminos City mayor Hernani Braganza, Agriculture undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, and UPLB dean of Graduate School Oscar Zamora.  Alcala recently signed the  implementing rules and regulation for RA 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, institutionalizing funding support for organic agriculture programs and projects in the Philippines.

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Pres. Aquino’s first 100 days

DA chief ok’s IRR for Organic Agri law; congressional ‘approval’sought

ADVOCATES of organic farming on Thursday hailed the signing of the implementing rules and regulation (IRR) for Republic Act 10068 which is expected to boost the promotion and development of ecologically-sound food production practices in the Philippines.

Roland Cabigas, a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said the crafting of the IRR , which was signed by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, significantly marks Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s first 100 days in office.

The final IRR for RA 10068 has been submitted by the Department of Agriculture to the agriculture committees of the Philippine Senate headed by Senator Francis Pangilinan and the House of Representatives headed by Batangas 4th District Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza last week.  The proposed IRR will be reviewed by the congressional oversight committee on agricultural and fisheries modernization.

Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza, a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines echoed Cabigas’ sentiment, saying it is considered a key reform achievement of the Aquino administration in promoting sustainable agriculture and food self-sufficiency for the country.

Branganza, concurrently the secretary general of the League of Cities of the Philippines, pioneered local government initiative in support of organic farming through allocation of funds and resource mobilization directed towards the promotion and development of organic agriculture in Alaminos City.

The IRR for RA 10068 is the first policy document under the Aquino administration that recognizes low carbon development path as a strategic framework in the promotion of Philippine agriculture, Braganza said.

For his part, Cabigas, managing director of La Liga added that the IRR  pushes for the promotion of organic agriculture as a framework and strategy that should guide the agricultural aspect of the new Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) currently being crafted by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for 2011-2016.

La Liga, a development policy research and advocacy nongovernment organization is a member of Go Organic! Philippines, which implemented the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP) last year.  OFSP is a national program which aims to promote the shift from conventional to organic farming.

“The crafting of the IRR for RA 10068 is a clear demonstration of the new DA administration’s resolve to cause a shift from conventional farming to organic agriculture, Cabigas said.

La Liga was part of the technical working group composed of line agencies of different departments headed by DA and citizens’ groups that crafted and refined the IRR.

Republic Act 10068, otherwise known as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, was signed into law on April 2010.

According to Cabigas, more importantly, the IRR aims to address the perennial problem confronting progressive legislation about the absence of funding support, by allocating at least 2% of the annual DA budget for organic agriculture programs and projects.

“This will ensure the sustainable development of organic agriculture through the automatic appropriations from the DA’s annual budget certain percent for organic farming,” Cabigas said.

Further, Cabigas said the IRR provides for a transition period for the equal application of first, second and third party certification for organic agricultural produce.

Food, nutrition security through organic farming pushed

SETTING the tone on how the new administration will address food security issues, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala recently met with organic farming advocates to assure them that sustainable agriculture and citizens’ participation will be given premium under his watch.

The meeting paved the way for organic farming advocates to pitch the call for the promotion of organic farming to help enhance food and nutrition security and produce safer and healthier food through organic farming.

“Safer and healthier food” means food grown without the aid of often harmful chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides used by most farmers in conventional farms.

Organic farming promotes sustainable agriculture, as it only makes use of natural plant growth and yield boosters, unlike conventional farming which is highly dependent on chemicals to fertilize the soil and protect crops from infestation.

Convenors of Go Organic! Philippines initiated the meeting with Alcala, during which the country’s food czar gave them an insight of the DA’s plans and programs.

Alcala, one of those who sponsored and pushed the passage of the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, also made known his intention to broaden partnership with citizens’ groups to help achieve food security, starting with the government’s thrust to become rice-self sufficient by 2013.

An organic farming practitioner, Alcala wants Philippine farms to go organic and to make farmers self-reliant by producing their own organic fertilizer and natural pesticides.

He wants farmers as well as citizens’ groups to take part in planning and implementing the DA’s programs to boost food production.

During the meeting, Go Organic! Philippines submitted its proposal for a project entitled Organikong Palayan: Enhancing Food and Nutrition Security through Organic, Sustainable Agriculture.  It is the group’s updated strategy and program promoting organic farming, which builds on the previous gains of the partnership project with the DA, the Organic Fields Support Program Phase I, which aims to make Philippine farms ‘organic’.

The proposed project endeavors to expand coverage to more farmers and farming communities through farmers’ season-long training and related research and development, Roland Cabigas, Managing Director of La Liga said.

“Essentially, the Organikong Palayan is a two-pronged approach.  First, it aims to promote sustainable agriculture to help achieve rice self-sufficiency in three years and put the Philippine agricultural sector along the path of a low carbon development,” Cabigas, also a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines stressed.

He said the project also aims to strengthen partnership both at the local and national levels involving the DA, LGUs, NGOs and the academe as a means to consolidate support around the DA leadership’s policy and program initiatives on organic agriculture.

The project hopes to achieve increased income for farmers, increased rice productivity, and transform farmers as entrepreneurs, thus making agriculture viable again.

During the meeting, Alaminos City Mayor and League of Cities of the Philippines Secretary General Hernani Braganza also said LGUs are willing to work hand-in-hand for organic agriculture with the DA chief in support of Pres. Aquino’s thrusts.

UP Professor Oscar Zamora said the academe will help enhance knowledge on organic agriculture by conducting research and development, the result of which will be shared and made available to various stakeholders.

Among those who took part in the consultation meeting were Convenors of  Go Organic! Philippines including Mayor Hernani Braganza of Alaminos City, Atty. Efren Moncupa of the Malasimbu Agricultural Cooperative, Isagani Serrano of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and Dr. Oca Zamora of the UPLB Foundation.  Also in attendance were Dante De Lima and Teresa Sanano of Earth Keepers and Pablito Villegas of the One Organic Movement and Organic Producers and Traders Association.

Organic farming as climate change mitigation, adaptation strategy pushed

ORGANIC farming advocates are pitching calls for the promotion of organic farming as a climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy in the Philippines.

Oscar B. Zamora, a Professor at the University of Los Banos (UPLB) Department of Agriculture and a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said organic farming or organic agriculture production systems are less prone to extreme weather condition, such as drought, flood and waterlogging.

Zamora, dean of the graduate school of the UPLB, said organic farming addresses key consequences of climate change, namely increased occurrence of extreme weather events, increased water stress, and problems related to soil quality.

“It (organic farming) reduces the vulnerability of the farmers to climate change and variability,” he explained.

Roland Cabigas, managing director of La Liga Policy Institute and a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said the group has been advocating for the massive conversion of conventional rice farms to organic farm sites to help address climate change.

The Philippines, he said, remain highly vulnerable to climate change which adversely affects farm production as a result of extreme weather events such as typhoons, floods or agricultural drought.

“We need to rethink the way we do agriculture because it is already killing us,” Cabigas said.

As an adaptation strategy, organic farming, increases soil organic matter content, and hence higher water holding capacity making crops more resistant to drought conditions, Zamora said in his paper entitled “Organic Agriculture as a Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Strategy” where he identified some of the climate change resilient crops and potential substitute for rice during low rainfall periods, Zamora stressed.

These crops include avocado, carrot, cashew, common bean, corn, cowpea, eggplant, garlic, lablab bean, lesser yam, lettuce, mango, mungbean, mustard, okra, onion, pea, peanut, pechay, pepper, radish, sesame, sorghum, soybean, squash, sunflower, sweet potato, tomato, watermelon, and wax gourd.

By promoting the practice of biodiversity-based farming systems that increase the diversity of income sources and the flexibility to cope with adverse effects of climate change and variability, such as changing rainfall patterns, organic farming actually reduces the vulnerability of the farmers to climate change and variability, he said.

“This leads to higher economic and ecological stability through optimized ecological balance and risk-spreading.”

Zamora added that since organic farming is a low-risk farming strategy with reduced costs of external inputs, it lowers risks with partial or total crop failure due to extreme weather events or changed conditions in the wake of climate change and variability.

Organic farming also provides products that command higher prices via an organic certification system, he added.

Due to lower costs of production and higher selling prices, farmers can actually increase their income, thus the coping capacity of the farms is increased and the risk of indebtedness is lowered.

As a mitigation strategy, Zamora said organic farming addresses emissions reduction, reduces carbon emissions from farming system inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides; methane, C02, CO emissions in lowland paddy soils by effective water management.

Organic farming, he added, promotes carbon sequestration. This is achieved through, among others, cultural management practices, such as use of compost and other organic materials for soil fertility enhancement, practice of biodiversity-based farming systems (mixed cropping and use of green manures, legume-based crop rotation, agroforestry systems involving annual crops, perennials, trees and hedges).

“Increasing soil organic carbon in agricultural systems has been pointed out as an important mitigation option by IPCC,” he added.

He added that practice of soil conserving tillage system such as zero or minimum tillage because when there is excessive plowing, soil carbon gets oxidized and become atmospheric carbon dioxide5.

“It also reduces biomass mineralization, decreases oxygen availability and increases soil organic carbon concentration.  These practices help reduce evaporation by minimizing exposed soil surface area of soil,” he added.

Organic farming advocates welcome ‘review of hybrid rice program’

AGRICULTURE Secretary Proceso Alcala found a strong ally in organic farming advocates who welcome the move to review the government’s hybrid rice program and rice importation policy.

Roland Cabigas, managing director of La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) and a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said considering the apparent failure of the hybrid rice program and rice importation policy to address the perennial ‘rice problems’ which includes poor production, supply shortage, and price control, a comprehensive review of the government’s programs and policies is only to be expected.

“It is about time to give the hybrid rice program and the rice importation policy another look because it is obvious that they are not helping address the country’s food security woes,” Cabigas said.

Cabigas was reacting to recent pronouncements made by the DA chief regarding his doubts over the hybrid rice program of the government.

Alcala, an organic farming practitioner, said only 10% of the country’s rice farmers are in fact into hybrid rice production while 30% are using certified seeds while 60% use ordinary seeds.  He said gradually increasing areas planted to certified seeds in the next few years will be an option for the DA instead of pushing too much on hybrid rice production.

The country’s food czar also bared that among his targets, beyond achieving rice self-sufficiency, is for the Philippines to export organic rice, the demand for which in other countries are increasing.

Cabigas said the government is spending a big chunk of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) budget to promote supposedly high-yielding hybrid rice varieties over the past few decades and seemed to have overlooked the need to invest in repair and rehabilitation of existing, and construction of new irrigation, post harvest facilities, training, extension and other equally important support services such as marketing, to boost production make rice accessible at an affordable price.

“Over the past decades, the government is promoting hybrid rice varieties.  Year after year, the program failed to help hit the government’s own rice production targets that only led to increased importation of rice.  Yet again, we are still experiencing supply shortage which triggers rice price crisis every now and then,” Cabigas said.

He said the government should conduct a cost-and-benefit analysis of the hybrid rice program to be able to make the necessary adjustments or policy shift, if necessary.

More importantly, Cabigas said there is a need to look for other viable options, such as the shift from conventional to organic farming which promotes a change in lifestyle among farmers and consumers.

A policy research and advocacy nongovernment organization, La Liga acts as the secretariat of Go Organic! Philippines, which is aggressively promoting organic farming.

Cabigas said no less than the 14th Congress supports the shift to organic farming with the passage of Republic Act 10068, otherwise known as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010.

The measure, which seeks to promote and develop organic farming, was signed into law on April 6, 2010.

La Liga is currently facilitating a parallel nongovernment organization consultation process for the crafting of the implementing rules and regulation (IRR) of the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, which seeks to know what the stakeholders in the organic agriculture movement have to say about the law.

The IRR consultation held at the convention hall of the Pangasinan State University in Lingayen, Pangasinan last Friday was attended by over 200 members of various nongovernment organizations, farmers, traders, members of the academic institutions and representatives of various local government units from Regions 1, 2, 3 and the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR).

Stakeholders optimistic about future of organic agriculture in RP

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Farmers, traders and organic farming stakeholders in Northern Luzon expressed optimism in the future of organic agriculture in the Philippines which is expected to get the much needed boost from local government units (LGUs).

Led by Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza, an NGO- and farmers-led stakeholders’ forum kicked off at the convention hall of the Pangasinan State University here Friday, with over 200 farmers, traders, members of the academe and LGU representatives from Regions 1, 2, 3 and the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), actively taking part to discuss issues confronting the organic agriculture movement.

The activity serves as a parallel process of the nationwide consultation initiated by DA Secretary Proceso Alcala, for the crafting of the implementing rules and regulation of Republic Act 10068, otherwise known as Organic Agriculture Act of 2010.

The law seeks to promote and develop organic agriculture in the Philippines.

La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) is facilitating the parallel NGO consultation process sponsored by the Pangasinan State University and in coordination with Go Organic! Philippines, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), Organic Producers and Traders’ Alliance (OPTA), and the One Organic Movement.

Roland Cabigas, managing director of La Liga said the IRR consultation for the Organic Agriculture Act seeks to know what farmers have to say about the law.

“It also highlights how the new DA secretary wants the farmers to play a major role in the crafting of the IRR,” Cabigas, a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines which implemented the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP) of the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Soils and Water Management last year stressed.

During his brief speech, Braganza underscored the fact that the Organic Agriculture Act recognizes the crucial role of local governments in providing policy direction, as well as implementation partners as resource to strengthen Philippine agriculture.

More importantly, he said the law also recognizes the role of local governments and their leagues as catalyst in the promotion of an agriculture strategy that gives emphasis to a low-carbon development path.

“This is crucial considering our country’s increasing vulnerability to climate change,” he said.

The need to institutionalize funding for the implementation of the law was echoed by participants, as well as the need for a careful evaluation on matters related to product labeling and third party certification.

Farmers also want to know as to how will product labeling and third party certification benefit them, the same way it will help traders and benefit consumers, Cabigas said.

Braganza, an organic farming advocate said that without a budget to support its implementation, the law will end up like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act which until now are not fully implemented.

He said there is a need to convince government officials to put a budget line item for organic agriculture in the DA.

Likewise, he stressed the need for LGUs to chip in to boost organic farming and make the necessary shift to ecologically-sound food production ways in lieu of chemical-intensive farming.

During the past six years, even before the Organic Agriculture Act was passed, Alaminos City is providing various support and extension to organic farmers.  In sum, Alaminos has so far poured P12 million of its own funds to promote organic farming under Braganza’s leadership.

Alaminos City is part of Go Organic! Philippines and is one of the One Pangasinan Alliance of LGUs, an economic alliance of LGUs in Western Pangasinan which supports the promotion and development of organic farming as a key to fighting hunger and poverty through sustainable agriculture.

Organic farming is being eyed as a solution to the looming rice crisis in the Philippines because of its many benefits.

“It lowers production cost and helps boost farmers’ income.  Organic farming also promotes a healthy working environment, unlike in conventional farming, where farmers are exposed to harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” Cabigas stressed.

More importantly, Cabigas said organic agriculture helps fight global warming by promoting environment-friendly food production while at the same time still ensuring improved if not better farm outputs, farmers’ income and health even including safer and more nutritional food for our consumers.

Organic Agriculture as a Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Strategy

Organic Agriculture as a Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Strategy

(Oscar B. Zamora 23 July 2010)

(Co-convenor, Go Organic! Philippines)

  1. Organic agriculture (OA) production systems are less prone to extreme weather conditions, such as drought, flooding, and waterlogging.
  2. OA addresses key consequences of climate change, namely increased occurrence of extreme weather events, increased water stress, and problems related to soil quality[1]; it reduces the vulnerability of the farmers to climate change and variability.

3.  OA as an adaptation strategy …

  1. OA increases soil organic matter content, and hence higher water holding capacity making crops more resistant to drought conditions.
  1. OA reduces the vulnerability of the farmers to climate change and variability by:
  • Promoting the practice of biodiversity-based farming systems that increase the diversity of income sources and the flexibility to cope with adverse effects of climate change and variability, such as changing rainfall patterns. This leads to higher economic and ecological stability through optimized ecological balance and risk-spreading.
  • Providing a viable alternative for resource-poor farmers who are most vulnerable to climate change. OA is a low-risk farming strategy with reduced costs of external inputs, therefore, lower risks with partial or total crop failure due to extreme weather events or changed conditions in the wake of climate change and variability.
  • Providing products that command higher prices via an organic certification system; higher farm incomes are thus possible due to lower costs of production and higher selling prices. The coping capacity of the farms is increased and the risk of indebtedness is lowered.

[Note: Risk management, risk-reduction strategies, and economic diversification to build resilience are also prominent aspects of adaptation, as mentioned in the Bali Action Plan[2]].

c. Crops varieties/genotypes (and animal breeds) used in OA are usually well adapted to the local, and usually more stressed environments. This is important because localized effects of climate variability cannot be foreseen in detail because localized application of climate change models is still difficult; they are not yet accurate


[1] IPCC. 2007. “Summary for Policy Makers.” In IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, “Working Group II Report: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.” See specifically on adaptation, chapter 17; on inter-relationships between adaptation and mitigation, Chapter 18; on vulnerability, chapter 19. http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-spm.pdf and http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg2.htm.

[2] UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). 2007. Online document.  “The Bali Action Plan, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.” http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/cop_13/application/pdf/cp_bali_action.pdf

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