TIGAON, CAMARINES SUR –  Six years after being awarded as National Outstanding Organic group, the multi-awarded association of organic practitioners in Bicol sustained its operation and now aims to be a pioneer core group in Participatory Guarantee System (PGS).

The Agri Planters and Food Processors Association of Tigaon (TAPFPAT) won the National Outstanding Organic Farmers’ Group in 2016 and 2019. It is also a DA-CSO accredited association.

It started its operations in June 2013 and registered with DOLE in November 2015. It is composed of 51 members coming from 12 barangays of Tigaon. Eight (8) members were certified as organic farmers by the OCCP in March 2022. Certified organic crops included lettuce, cucumber, assorted vegetables, paddy rice, and rootcrops.

The association produces chili garlic sauce, pickled cucumber, and coco vinegar with chili. The members process their products at the DTI’s Shared Facilities inside the DA-HVCDP funded Cacao Processing Center in Barangay Caraycayon, Tigaon. In April, they delivered 900 bottles of each product (2,700 bottles) to the Office of Vice President Leni Robredo.

Elmer Salazar is currently the president of TAPFPAT. The present goal of the TAPFPAT is to become a Core PGS in the region. Hence, five of their members including Salazar and four  members, namely: Emilia Borabo, Isidro Delfino, Jennifer Lopez, and Norma Bautista underwent a 10-day Trainors Training on PGS on April 18-29, 2022 conducted by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) RTC 5. On May 16-17, they attended the Workshop on the Finalization of the PGS Manual of Operations and Internal Standard for Core Group conducted by the DA-Organic Agriculture Program at the Sonrisa Farm in Magarao, Camarines Sur.

Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) refers to a locally-focused quality assurance system which is developed and practiced by people actually engaged in organic agriculture. It is built on a foundation of trust, social network, and knowledge exchange. It is used to certify producers and farmers as actual and active practitioners of organic agriculture.

The PGS shall be the mechanism by which small farmers/fisherfolk, their farms/associations/cooperatives shall be certified as engaged in organic agriculture and as producers of organic agriculture products.

 The PGS was launched by Secretary William Dar on June 4, 2021. He said that RA 11511 opened opportunities for the small farmers and fisherfolk who want a sustainable and environment-friendly organic practice through PGS as it will significantly reduce the cost of maintaining organic certification. It will also actively involve farmers and fisherfolk with like-minded stakeholders and advocates of organic agriculture by maintaining the integrity of organic products available in the market.

Income from Organic Farming

One organic farmer member is Emilia Borabo who has been a member since 2013. She grows sweet potato in the half portion of her 1-hectare farm area. Recently she harvested 1,500 kilos sweet potato which she sold at their local market at P20.00 per kilo. She was able to harvest five times before replanting. In another portion of her upland farm, she grows lettuce in 12 plots measuring 1 x 12 meters. She sells fresh lettuce at P50.00 per 200 grams giving her an estimated income of P3,500 per plot.

Norma Bautista, Secretary of the TAPFPAT and also incharge of processing projects, is also one of the members of the PGS Core Group. Bautista also owns the Herbas Immaculada, an ATI-accredited Learning Site located at her residence and farm in Zone 3, San Antonio, Tigaon.

These farmers were also registered with the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards as producers of organic rice seeds and assorted vegetables and are also compliant to the Philippine National Standard (PNS) for organic agriculture since 2011. (By LOVELLA P. GUARIN – DA RAFIS 5)  (Photo credit : Eduardo Collantes, Jr.  and Hermito Privaldos)