THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has officially opened the country’s first organic trading center in Nueva Vizcaya which will provide production assistance, semi processing facilities, marketing promotion and trading facilities for organic agricultural products.
Located at the DA’s 183-hectare Nueva Vizcaya Experiment Station in Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya, the P18-million Cagayan Valley Regional Organic Trading Center (ROTC) hosts an agribusiness development center, organic native chicken production center, administration building, fruit processing and packaging building, wild pig conservation and production center, and a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)-certified vegetable production area.
The center also has function halls and dormitories to accommodate organic farming practitioners for trainings.
“We cannot discount the role of organic farming in improving the health of the soil, the environment and our people. We hope that the center will be a model to promote holistic, sustainable, inclusive agricultural growth through organic farming,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said.
Alcala, formerly a two-term congressman of the 2nd district of Quezon and author of Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, added that despite difficulties, the organic agriculture movement in the country and around the world continues to grow.
“The country’s volume of organic production increased from 4,500 metric tons in 2009 to 27,000 metric tons in 2014,” the DA chief said.
But he stressed that the country still has much work to do to convert at least 5 percent of its 9.67 million hectares of agricultural land into organic farms.
He said that the ROTC is seen to spur interest in, and serve as a model on increasing organic agriculture production and trading in the country.
He also acknowledged that there are problems faced by the organic agriculture industry, such as costly third-party certification, insufficient supply of organic planting materials and lack of transport and trading equipment, but added that the DA has already put up programs to address these issues.
Among the interventions provided by the DA are organic agriculture training programs, techno demo farms, organic farming facilities and implements, and subsidy for third-party certification.
Meanwhile, the DA chief said they are now intensifying consultation activities with Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (APTC) stakeholders to come up with a unified set of standards that will govern the operations of APTCs in the country.
The government aims to fast-track the identification and integration of innovative policies that will ensure organized operations of APTCs working as a network of marketing and empowerment hubs for farmers.
Alcala stressed that APTCs need attention, especially if stakeholders want these centers to work as an efficient network. He emphasized the role of APTCs in complementing the DA’s programs on the promotion of new technologies for increased productivity.
The DA envisions APTCs to be the farmers’ trading center of choice, patronized by vendors and traders as a reliable venue for procuring quality produce at the best value, serving as a hub for timely and quality supply of farm inputs at reasonable prices, as well as capability building to increase farmer productivity and entrepreneurial management skills, among other services.