DA bats for competitive, safe farm products

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THE government has allocated P636.3 million for organic agriculture development in 2015, seeking to transform Philippine agriculture into a sufficient source of healthy food, the agency said on Friday.

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“As we gear towards a food sufficient nation that is competitive to other ASEAN nations, we shall not lose focus on making sure that we provide safe, healthy and chemical-free farm produce,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said in a statement.

Alcala said that out of the total P52 billion DA budget for 2015, organic agriculture gets P636.37 million for research and development initiatives.

During the Organic Agriculture Program Review and Planning Workshop in Bicol Region, Fr. Ian Trillanes of the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB) explained that with DA mainstreaming organic agriculture, it will not be treated as a special project anymore but a regular initiative with an assured funding.

Trillanes emphasized that organic farmers should aim and work for certification of their farm and products. He also underscored that farmers should not only propose projects that are eligible but viable.

Adelina Losa, Bicol Regional focal person for organic agriculture and currently chief of the DA Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division, explained that the Bicol region has a great potential for organic agriculture with its total agricultural area of 891,955 hectares, five percent of which (equivalent to 44,597.75 hectares) is targeted to be utilized for organic agriculture.

She also emphasized the vital role of the LGUs as the front liners in the implementation of organic agriculture. She enjoined the LGU representatives to start organizing Municipal Technical committees and urge the Sangguniang Bayan to approve a resolution so that the budget for the organic agriculture program could be released to the LGU.

As part of the seminar, a representative from the Bureau of Soils and Water Management, Eduardo Alberto and a representative from the Agricultural Training Institute presented their accomplishment and workplans for organic agriculture. In addition, selected organic agriculture focal persons of provinces and municipalities which are already implementing the organic agriculture program were requested to report their accomplishments and work plan.

Over 60 participants including organic agriculture focal persons from local government units, municipal agriculturists, extension workers, representatives from the academe, farmers’ groups, and organic agriculture advocates attended the workshop.

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