BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance institutionalizing, promoting and developing organic agriculture in the city and providing funds for the said program.
The ordinance, authored by Councilor Leandro B. Yangot, Jr., states the practice of organic agriculture adheres to the promotion and enhancement of the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity and shall prevail over any other activity in the agriculture sector; the empowerment of all small and marginalized farmers in the agriculture areas of the city is a priority; the implementation of a strategy for mitigation and adaptation to climate change is an urgent policy; while unifying the initiatives and efforts of all government agencies and instrumentalities in agriculture, the enhancement of the city’s poverty reduction strategy should not be lost in sight; organic agriculture contributes to the city’s economy and the attainment of food security; organic agriculture cannot co-exist with genetically modified crops, chemically produced crops, and related organisms, both living and non-living; organic agriculture is multi-functional and in this sense, all existing policies of the government on agriculture should take this into account and the integrity of organic products should be ensured through the approved organic certification process and organic production, handling, and processing standards.
For the effective implementation of the code, the ordinance mandates all 128 barangays through the different barangay councils to submit to the City Council through the Committee on Market and Agriculture a list of agriculture zones within their respective barangays to be organized according to ecological districts based on exiting categories of land tenure instruments and arrangements such as the ancestral domain, protected areas, agrarian reform communities and the community-based management zones.
The ordinance added the City Government through the City Agriculturist’s office and in coordination with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry shall establish, recognize and support organic centers including those initiated by the private sector that will promote market and develop organic agriculture.
Further, measures shall be established by the farming communities, including indigenous peoples’ communities, to conserve and protect indigenous knowledge relating to organic agriculture, including those that relate to said conservation and propagation and the various ways by which on-farm and ex-situ mechanisms are established and sustained.
Yangot added the City Government through the City Agriculturist’s Office shall establish an organic seed bank to produce and supply organic, endemic or indigenous seeds for farmers while it shall also ensure support to organic farmers who wish to engage in organic agriculture, such as training, production, marketing, and branding, including financial management and accounting among other necessary skills to develop an organic agriculture product that will ensure market niche, including the practice of fair trade.
He added the local government shall appropriate substantial budget to ensure the implementation of the local legislative measure and to support organic agriculture activities of the city.
By Dexter A. See