La Trinidad, Benguet – Farmers echo the need for strengthening organic agriculture to address health issues and land degradation in the region during the 5th Regional Organic Agriculture Congress 2018 cum Farmers Festival and Trade Fair/Exhibit at BAPTC, La Trinidad, Benguet on September 25-27, 2018.
“We were so focused in raising enough volume of food to the point of sacrificing food safety even soil fertility,” Jefferson Laruan, organic farmer, laments as many farmers are converting to heavy use of chemicals in order to address food security.
June Bayawa, organic farmer, agreed saying that the religious implementation of policies and guidelines of organic agriculture even with its tedious work will still end to the sustainability of family needs while securing good health both for family members and consumers and maintaining the soil structure, both farmers realizing the importance of organic agriculture after experiencing different losses in practicing conventional farming.
The Cordillera office of the Department of Agriculture (DA-CAR) and fellow farmers are challenging farmers to produce organic products to boost and strengthen soil fertility. The farmers elaborated that the practice of organic agriculture can strengthen the land and protect consumers and farmers alike from illnesses.
Cameron Odsey, DA-CAR regional executive director, said that if the region has its strength, it is organic agriculture, thus, in order to strengthen organic farming in the region, the department will fortify its programs by devoting an additional 2% of the total agricultural land area to organic farming in every province from 2018 to 2023, provide support through marketing of organic products and be globally competitive and, provide technical and production support to increase the volume of organic production, among others.
Based on the reports of local government units of the region’s six provinces, there is a continuous increase in organic agriculture production areas, last year alone recording almost thrice the production area of 2014, from 12,674.18 hectares to 47,495.67 hectares.
The department aims to continuously promote organic farming through organic agriculture policies, practices, activities and programs for a healthy Cordillera and empower every organic farmer to become a model whose works and deeds are worth emulating towards community development. This is in order to produce safe, healthy and affordable food from the farm to table.
By Jenny M. Dayao