MANILA — Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard-bearer Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. is eyeing the creation of a comprehensive organic farming framework that would finally allow the sector to become a viable option for Filipino farmers.

Marcos noted that even while the country institutionalized organic agriculture with the passage of Republic Act No. (RA) 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, there has been a slow growth of hectarage turning to organic farming.

“The law mandates that the government has to promote, propagate, develop further and implement the practice of organic agriculture which will cumulatively condition and enrich the fertility of the soil, reduce pollution and destruction of the environment, and prevent the depletion of natural resources,” Marcos said.

“But the promotion of Organic Agriculture in the Philippines faces many challenges such as policy gaps, lack of production support, promotion and awareness activities; fragmented and inadequate research and development, extension and capability building activities; and poor market systems. Kailangan may clear and comprehensive framework o roadmap para mahikayat ang ating mga farmers at mangingisda na subukan ang organic agriculture. Baka meron ding naging pagkukulang doon sa batas kaya hindi natupad ang hangarin nito,” he added.

Data from the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), showed that from 2011 to 2017, the total organic agriculture area had hit 349,041.28 hectares, about 4.86 percent of the total agricultural area of 7,165,815.61 hectares.

Among the problems faced by farmers who turned into organic farming included an insufficient supply of organic inputs/fertilizer; and laborious farming practices with need for more capital to meet the labor requirement,

However, Marcos is optimistic that a better roadmap for developing organic agriculture could now be created with President Dutere signing into law RA 11511, which amended the Organic Agriculture Law.

The amendatory law recognizes Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) as a credible and affordable way to certify organic produce. Under the old law, Section 17 stated that only products certified under Third-Party certification could be labeled organic, which was a key concern because it restricted small farmers who could not afford third-party certification but were practicing organic farming.

“Organic farming is beneficial because it maintains and improves fertility, soil structure, and biodiversity, and reduces erosion; it also reduces the risks of human, animal, and environmental exposure to toxic materials. But if all farmers abruptly adopt zero use of chemical fertilizer, yields may drop which could put our food supply at risk. That’s why we need to have an effective agriculture program that recognizes the actual conditions of most farmers and supports a movement to shift from chemical-based production,” Marcos stressed. (ai/mtvn)

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