Group lauds DA, Yap's organic agriculture program
Manila (19 June) -- Organic farming advocates on Monday lauded the Department of Agriculture led by Secretary Arthur C. Yap for taking the lead in promoting sustainable agriculture through the shift to organic farming in the Philippines.
Lawyer Atty. Efren Moncupa, lead convenor of Go Organic! Philippines, in particular lauded Yap for asking farmers to adopt the DA's organic agriculture programs.
"This is precisely what we want the DA Secretary Arthur C. Yap to do. By personally taking the lead in promoting organic farming," Moncupa said.
He was referring to newspaper report quoting Yap as he called on farmers to shift to organic farming and veer away from excessive use of often harmful chemical fertilizers.
Go Organic! Philippines, a consortium of nongovernment organizations led by the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and the La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI), is aggressively promoting organic farming in the Philippines.
Go Organic! Philippines was DA's partner in implementing Phase 1 of the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP) which ran from November last year until April 2009. OFSP stands for Fertilizer, Irrigation and other rural infrastructure like farm-to-market roads, Education and extension work, Loans, Dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and Seeds and is the DA's main thrust to achieve the country's rice self-sufficiency target.
Under OFSP1, 600 farmers in six provinces in Luzon namely Oriental Mindoro, Albay, Camarines Sur, Nueva Ecija, Bataan and Pangasinan, were trained on various organic farming systems and technologies in preparation for the massive conversion of conventional farms into organic farm sites.
The DA is eyeing to cover 400,000 hectares of agricultural land by 2010 and is preparing for the implementation of OFSP Phase 2. Through the program, local government units in the said pilot areas have committed to support the DA's organic farming program. A memorandum of agreement between the local chief executives of the said towns and the DA was signed to ensure institutional support to organic farming on the part of the LGUs.
The effective information campaign launched by La Liga Policy Institute (LLPI) as DA's partner in implementing the Quad Media Information, Education and Communication (QUAD IEC) program popularized organic farming in the Philippines and generated a broad based support, particularly from farmers and consumers.
In the report, Yap was quoted as promising to continue the DA's program on organic farming in partnership with various nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and called on farmers to adopt the DA's organic agriculture program to ensure profitable food production, protect the environment and guarantee the sustainability of the country's land resources.
In calling for the shift to organic farming, Yap had expressed his concern over the "reckless use of the country's natural resources and overdependence on chemical-based pesticides and fertilizers" which are being blamed for the environmental damage it has caused to soil, water and air.
Moncupa, a former agrarian reform undersecretary, echoed Yap's concern that excessive use of chemical fertilizer only makes the country's soil unproductive.
"The more we use chemical fertilizers on our soil, the more our soil becomes helplessly dependent on these toxic substances that pollute our soil, our water and our air," Moncupa said.
Isagani Serrano, acting president of PRRM, said the Philippines is racing against time in the fight against global warming and climate change.
Also a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines, Serrano aid farmers and consumers can help substantially reduce the country's carbon footprint and lead in the global campaign for climate change mitigation and adaptation by simply using organic fertilizer which will help farmers break the chain from chemical fertilizers.
"More than 30 percent of the greenhouse gas that goes into the atmosphere comes from agriculture - because of the excessive use of chemical inputs in our farms. By going organic, we can reduce greenhouse gas emission and help save the world," he said.
Roland Cabigas, Managing Director of LLPI and a convenor of Go Organic! Philippines said through organic farming, farmers and consumers will benefit not only in terms of increased income, but in terms of health and environment, as well, saying by using organic fertilizer, farmers are actually allowing nature to cure itself, allowing soil nutrients to regenerate and become productive once more.
"Organic farming produces healthy food and healthy environment," he said. (Go Organic! Philippines/PIA 12) [top]