By: Enrique Cañizares III (ESSA Researcher)
Last August 22, 2019, the City of Davao held its first ever Organic Agriculture Congress. The city wide congress was organized by the City Agriculture Office in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, Municipal Agriculture Office in Davao City and was attended by the district representatives comprise of farmers, NGO’s, and 1 Brgy. Captain
Included in the program was the Awarding of 3 outstanding farmers of Davao, and one of the awardee was Mr. Janel Juaton, a 26 year old young farmer which is very inspiring because he is one of the few young farmers who were present during the program. Janel Juaton was trained under the guidance of MASIPAG, a non-government organization working with the youth who are interested in farming and help them rediscover and give value to what it means to be a farmer scientist at this day and age.
The NOAB’s strategic plan until 2020 for organic agriculture was presented, but worth mentioning are the following discussions of Mr. Percy Ponciano, a Department of Agriculture representative:
- That the price of rice in Davao has dropped due to the application of tariff on products and the effects of Train law. Many of the farmers now are suffering due to drop in prices of their goods due to the bulk of import coming from outside the country.
- That Davao city is mainly producing banana and that the current rice production in the city is not enough to support its demand.
- That the Organic Trading Post funded by D.A Davao was demolished by the City Government to give way to road widening.
- The National Organic Congress will be held this November 2020 in Tagaytay.
- There will be a meeting by the Department of Agriculture to assess the status of existing OTP’s all over the country
- The Department of Agriculture in Davao has programs for farmers who are interested to acquire Ramp Pumps and Mokosaku Equipments.
- The budget for the Department of Agriculture was cut to 50% during the current administration.
- The reason why chemical fertilizers prices go up is because it is affected by Global prices in gasoline as it is a byproduct of gasoline production.
Also tackled in this event were the issues on coconut industries because gracing this event also was the representative of the Philippine Coconut Authority who gave a short presentation of its programs.
One of the most interesting question raised by the participants was, is there an increase of farmers going into organic farming. The representative from D.A. said that over-all their work in D.A is very difficult. Not only that the department’s budget was cut in half, the problem of resilience and consistency from the farmers who are converting their farms from conventional farming to organic farming is also one of the main reasons these farmers in the end revert back to chemical farming. In other words “Wala ka lahutay” in bisaya, meaning “They can’t finish the whole process”, or in FarmSci NASSA’s term, the inner condition of the farmer was not there. And all throughout the program this statement keeps popping not only from the government representatives but as well as from NGO’s and from the farmer themselves.
The participants were served with organic food and at the same time no plastic packaging except for the dessert which was durian flavored. None the less the City Agriculture office was making efforts to lessen the carbon footprint of the event.
Six (6) motions that were considered by the organic agriculture congress to be included in the passing of resolution in the Sangguniang Bayan that arose coming from the organic farmers and advocates:
- Only organic products will be provided in all organic agriculture events.
- To ban all chemical fertilizers not only in Davao but nationwide as well.
- To include the Participatory Guarantee System in R.A 10068.
- For the City Agriculture Office of Davao to explain why the 1.5M Php fund from the Department of Agriculture was not utilized to create a techno-demo farm for Davao City.
- The supervision to include Organic Agriculture in the Department of Education.
- The allocation of 5% of the Barangay funds for Organic Agriculture programs.
Though many of the organic farmers of the Davao City weren’t able to attend and that no media was involved for the first ever City Congress for Organic Agriculture, none the less it is a big step towards the advocacy of organic agriculture all throughout the country.