Commentary: The gov't push for organic farming
By Renee F. De Guzman
San Fernando City, La Union (4 November) -- In a move to boost the country's agricultural productivity program and pro-environmental policy, the Department of Agriculture is shifting towards funding capacity building programs on organic farming rather than the petrochemical inputs.
The policy shift would mean that, the DA is pouring it's funds for intervention programs into "hard" projects, such as irrigation maintenance and post-harvest facilities rather than "soft" projects like fertilizer subsidy.
The shift, as it would deal heavily the government's fertilizer support is expected to encourage farmers to go organic farming and produce their own fertilizers instead, said Agricultural Secretary Arthur Yap.
The push for organic farming will start next year with the agency's fertilizer manufacturing support to 10% of the estimated four million hectares of rice fields nationwide.
The production strategy shift will cover all of DA's farm productivity programs supportive of President Arroyo's centerpiece food security agenda dubbed FIELDS.
In a related move, President Arroyo announced recently that she is allocating P2 billion from additional value-added tax (VAT) on oil for the DA's Fertilizer, Irrigation, Extension and Education, Loans, Dryers and post-harvest facilities, and Seeds (FIELDS).
The President has also ordered the release of P4 billion from government revenues from the Malampaya natural gas project in Palawan as additional funding for the country's rice self-sufficiency program.
Of the amount, P2 billion will go to the Agricultural Guarantee Fund Pool establish through Administrative Order 225 and held in trust with the Land Bank of the Philippines.
The fund shall be used to mitigate the risk involved in agriculture lending by providing guarantee-cover to unsecured loan financing extended by financial institutions and other parties to new small farmers engaged in rice and food production projects or activities, thus facilitating the provision of credit in the sector.
The remaining P2 billion will be for the rice self-sufficiency and other commodity programs "to augment DA funds to provide seeds and location specific interventions in addressing rice-self sufficiency targets and securing availability of food commodities at stable prices." (PIA La Union) [top]