By: Enrique Cañizares III (ESSA Researcher)
Last September 17 and 18, 2019 the 7th Regional Organic Agriculture Congress for Western Visayas was held at Casa Real of the Provincial Capitol.
Farmers and organic agriculture advocates from all over the region came together to take a closer look at the Organic Agriculture Roadmap for Western Visayas.
The program started with opening remarks by Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. of the Province of Iloilo. The governor also an advocate of organic agriculture states that one of his intentions is, for organic food to be the center piece of tourism, and that organic agriculture should elevate into a thriving business because of the opportunities brought by farm tourism.
To address the challenge of sustainability is to provide support especially to young Agri-Preneurs for them to generate their interest to go back in agriculture. The Governor plans to have further dialogue with the farmers about their needs so that the province can align its program to meet these needs.
The sequence was followed by presentations of Organic Agriculture Programs and roadmaps both from the Department of Agriculture Western Visayas and the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) for 2017 – 2023.
A representative from La Granja Crop Research and Development in the person of Jennifer L. Ferrer gave a presentation about Organic Seed Production for peanuts, soybeans and mung beans. The presentation includes results of production as well as applied interventions for the period of 2 years with the inclusion of factors such as drought and heavy rains.
The credit programs that can be accessed by small and medium farmers through Landbank was presented by its representative. Though there was no specific credit program for Organic Agriculture. The acknowledgement of the bulk of application they receive throughout the day is one of the main factors that leads to the delays in the release of funds.
An update of the Organic Agriculture Resolutions was also presented by the representative of NOAB. A total of 22 approved resolutions as of July 31, 2019 that was sponsored by different regions all throughout the country.
The said resolutions are the following:
- Requiring NOAB Government Permanent Representatives to Designate Organic Agriculture Focal Persons in their Departments
- Recommending the NOAB FY 2020 Plan and Budget
- Recommending the Approval of the Guidelines for the Preparation of the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) FY 2020 Plan and Budget Proposal
- Requiring NOAB Government Permanent Representatives to Attend the Regular Meetings
- Adopting the 15th National Organic Agriculture Congress (NOAC) Resolutions
- Approving Camp Benjamin in Alfonso, Cavite as the Official Venue and November 11 – 15, 2019 as the Official Date of the 16th National Organic Agriculture Congress with the Theme
“OA4K: Organikong Agrikutura sa Kumikitang Kabuhayan para sa Kalusugan at Kapaligiran”
- Recommending the Approval of the Revision of the National Organic Agriculture Achievers Awards (NOAAA) Guidelines
- Recommending the Approval of the Guidelines for the National-On-the-Spot Essay Writing and Poster Making Contest
- Recommending the Approval of the Guidelines for Organic Agriculture Research Category
- Recommending the Approval of the Guidelines for Kabataang OA 2019
- Requiring National Organic Agriculture Board NOAB Government Permanent Representatives to Designate Regional Organic Agriculture Focal Persons in their Department
- Adopting the Recommendations of the End of Program Assessment Report for the National Organic Agriculture Program
- Recommending the Department of Education through its Gulayan sa Paaralan Program to establish organic gardens based on the provisions of the Philippine National Standards on Organic Agriculture
- Recommending the Department of Interior and Local Government Units through its Gulayan sa Barangay Program to establish organic gardens based on the provisions of the Philippine National Standards on Organic Agriculture
- Recommending the Department of Interior and Local Government to include the implementation of Organic Agriculture Program as one of the Criteria for the Seal of Good Local Governance
- Recommending the Department of Health to instruct all accredited hospitals to serve organic food
- Recommending the Department of Social Welfare and Development to integrate the organic agriculture program in its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program
- Recommending the National Organic Agriculture Program – National Program Coordinating Office to explore the adaptability of the Information Technology Enabled Maturity Assessment of the Department of Agrarian Reform to the implementation of the National Organic Agriculture Program
- Recommending the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Offices to conduct random monitoring of organic farms and surveillance of markets retailing organic produce, and use the Rapid Bio-assay for Pesticides Residue in the analysis of organic produce.
- Recommending the Department of Agriculture to include organic rice production in the Philippine Rice Industry Roadmap 2040
- Recommending the Approval of the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations on Accreditation of Private Organic Agriculture Extension Service Providers, and
- Requesting the Conduct of Value Chain Analysis of Organic Agriculture by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry
The National Organic Agriculture Program is currently focused on these themes.
- Institutional Development and Strengthening and Results-Based Monitoring and Evaluation
- Research and Development
- Extension and Capacity Building, Promotion, Advocacy and Education
- Production and Post-Production Support
- Market Support Services
- Regulatory Support Services
The second day started with the presentation of the Regional Organic Agriculture Program Direction by Glenda A. Himatay as the former focal person of the program and at the same time an informal turnover to the new Regional Focal Person for Organic Agriculture, Mr. Andrew Palomar.
The activities were followed by a discussion on the health benefits of organic products by Dr. Arleen Joy Vallejo. This is in relation to the new and emerging community of doctors who are moving away from the usual prescription approach of medication to a holistic medicine now popularly known as Lifestyle Medicine.
From a new form of health consciousness, an inspiring and success stories follow from a Doctor and from an Accountant. A growing trend of Professionals engaging into farming. A former Resident Physician at the Western Visayas Medical Center, Dr. Alfredo Gulmatico now owns Doc Haven’s Farm together with his family who are also involve in the operations of the farm.
Mrs. Nhilda Rhanee L. Causing who is an Accountant is on the process of developing their family farm which showcases Organic SRI production. Both farmers have established their market through quality production and trust built through the years. And with the advent of farm tourism both farms are now on the process of developing to meet its demands.
The program ended with additional resolutions from the participants that was facilitated by Mr. Elias Sandig from the Department of Agriculture and was followed by the awarding of winners for the cooking and poster making contest held in this program. The National Organic Agriculture Congress and Organic Agriculture in general are crucial in threading a new pathway for the Philippine society