CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, MISAMIS ORIENTAL - “What incentives can we give to every farmer who embraces organic farming?” This question posed by agriculture secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol in his speech during the 14th National Organic Agriculture Congress (NOAC) at Limketkai Center here, drew thunderous applause from the more than 1,600 organic agriculture advocates from all over the country.
Piñol added that whenever he is asked on his position on organic and conventional farming, he always says that “it is always the market which dictates the kind of farming systems we should embrace. Right now the world is moving towards health food or organic food.” He assured the participants of DA’s full commitment and support to organic agriculture. “Tell us what we need to do,” he asked the crowd.
He also urged the farmers and entrepreneurs to work on feeding the Filipino people first and limit attendance to international trade fairs if the entrepreneurs are not yet capable of sustaining the volume required by foreign investors.
Meanwhile, Engr. Christopher Morales, National Program Coordinator of the National Organic Agriculture Program reported the accomplishments of the program. As of October 2017, there are 39 certified as organic farms in the country and 8 in Bicol; 55 organic trading posts nationwide (2 in Bicol located in Banao Legazpi City and Daet, Camarines Norte); 2,368 farmers have adopted organic farming technologies in addition to existing 116,558 organic practitioners. He also reported that for CY 2017 a total of 51,559 hectares were converted to organic, a significant addition to the existing 350,760 hectares. These resulted to the production of 559,063 metric tons organic agricultural products. Some of these products reached 16 local and even foreign market destinations.
During the congress, Sec. Piñol also administered the oath of office to the new members of the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB) who will serve for FY 2017 to 2020. They are: Jefferson Laruan of La Trinidad Organic Practitioners (LATOP) – small farmer representative for Luzon; Pastor Jerry Dionson of Negros Island Organic Producers Association (NIOPA)- small farmer representative for Visayas; Adelberto Baniqued of SRI-Pilipinas Association based in Molave, Zamboanga Del Sur – small farmer representative for Mindanao; Engr. Balbuena Saret representing Agribusiness; Noel Salazar of Agri Eco Phils – representative for NGOs; and Dr. Norman de Jesus of Pampanga State Agricultural University –representative for academe
The congress was attended by organic farmers/practitioners, traders, and processors; regional, provincial and municipal organic agriculture focal persons; and national finalists and winners in the National Organic Agriculture Achievers Awards (NOAA). The Bicol delegation was composed of 70 participants and garnered three national awards in the NOAA. Elmer Salazar of Tigaon, Outstanding Small Farmer Individual category winner received P200,000 cash award. Dexter Mendoza of Ligao City, Outstanding City Focal Person, received P40,000 cash award. Adelina A. Losa, DA Bicol OA program coordinator is Outstanding Focal Person and she received P60,000 cash award.
Also present were Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat , Secretary’s alternate Chair and permanent representative to the NOAB; Mikael Ibasco, Secretary’s consultant for OA; members of NOAB; regional executive director of the DA regional offices, and directors of DA bureau and attached agencies, members of the NOAB and third party certifying bodies.
Senator Cynthia Villar was represented by Atty. Reggie Tamana, her chief of staff. Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano and CDO Mayor Oscar Moreno set the festive mood during the governor’s and mayor’s nights respectively.
On the second day, the participants were made to choose from three simultaneous sessions namely: Beginners; Marketers; and Researchers where a battery of competent speakers and successful organic practitioners shared their best practices. The third day was devoted to field tour to certified organic farms.
The Bicol delegation was composed of organic farmers, entrepreneurs, extension workers, and DA staff headed by DA Bicol regional Executive Director Elena B. delos Santos.
The 14th congress was hosted by the DA RFO X on October 24-26, 2017. With the theme Organic Agriculture: A smart Culture (Science-based, Market-Oriented, Adaptive, Responsive, Transformative.” (Lovella P. Guarin)