The government’s stop gap measure to boost organic agriculture is to subsidize for three years certification of organic farming practitioners provided they comply with the necessary requirements.
The high cost in applying for organic certification is a concern among organic farming practitioners much as they would want to be certified as it gives customer integrity of their produce.
Ramon Marañon of the National Organic Agriculture Board representing the Visayas region, said the government will now be subsidizing the cost to apply for certification. The budgetary allotment will be coursed thru the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Units (DARFU) which will assist farmers in the certification processes.
“Certification is one way of ensuring that products claimed to be organic are actually produced according to organic farming principles. It is a way of protecting consumers, producers, and traders against the use of misleading or deceptive labels. It is also a marketing instrument enabling producers to access markets for organic products and obtain premium prices. It also creates transparency as information in certified producing organizations and their products is made public, ” according to the Organic Center Certification of the Philippines, the only accredited certifying body for organic agriculture in the country along with the Negros Island Organic Certification Services.
In the Cordillera region, only farmers of Benguet have acquired certification. Based on records of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit – CAR (DARFU-CAR), 61 farms in the province were organically certified, 58 are from the La Trinidad Organic Practitioners (LaTOP) group while the rest are individual farms namely Agnes Philip Organic Farm in Atok, Cosmic Farm in Beckel here, and the Bureau of Plant Industry – Baguio National Crop Research Development Center based in Buguias.
Ruben Dulagan, acting chief of the Agri-Business and Marketing Assistance Division of DARFU-CAR, said prior to certification, the regional office extend assistance to the farmers. There are challenges which need to be considered such as the organic inputs, sourcing of seed materials, training capabilities in ensuring that organic agriculture will truly be practiced to come up with organically produced commodities based on quality standards.
Certification is on a yearly basis. The organic certification subsidy for three years will give ample time for organic farmers and practitioners to take off, he said.