The government is set on transforming the Philippine agriculture into a sufficient source of healthy food as the Department of Agriculture continues to push for organic agriculture as part of the regular program of the food agency.

“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 J. Alcala said.

The Agri chief added, that out of the total P52 billion DA budget for 2015, organic agri gets P636,366 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 proposed projects that are eligible but viable.

DA Regional Technical Director Elena B. de los Santos in her message reminded everyone to always be guided by the four principles of Organic Agriculture as laid down by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). These are: 1) the principles health – healthy soil plants, animals and human = healthy planet; 2) principles of ecology- emulating and sustaining natural systems; 3) principle of fairness- equity respect and justice for all living things 4) principle of care – concern for the generations to come.

Bicol Regional focal person for organic agriculture and currently chief of the DA Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division , Adelina A. Losa discussed the NOAP Major Components which are institutional development and strengthening; research and development; production and technology support; extension and capability building. She explained that Bicol region has a great potential for organic agriculture with its total agricultural area 891,955 hectares, five percent (5%) of which is targeted to be utilized for organic agriculture is equivalent to 44,597.75 hectares.

She thus emphasized the vital role of the LGUs as the front liners in the implementation of the organic agriculture. She enjoined the LGU representatives to start organizing the 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 activity, 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 the OA. Likewise, selected organic agriculture focal persons of provinces/municipalities which are already implementing the OA program were requested to report their accomplishments and work plan.

Over 60 participants composed of organic agriculture focal persons from the province, city and municipalities, municipal agriculturists, extension workers, representatives from the academe and farmers groups and organic agriculture advocates attended the workshop. # # # (Emily Bordado/RAFIS-V)