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Monday, August 15, 2022

Organic Congress strengthens OA advocates' linkage

BUTUAN CITY -- The advocates of organic agriculture in the Caraga region gathered to share and exchange best practices in the implementation of the Organic Agriculture Program through the 6th Regional Organic Agriculture Congress (ROAC) via the virtual platform on Friday.

This year, the Department of Agriculture-Caraga, in coordination with the Local Government Units (LGUs), brings forth the representatives from the Provincial/Municipal/City Agriculture Offices and Farmers' Cooperatives and Associations (FCAs) to discuss the ways to move the sector forward.

Bernadette F. San Juan, DA-National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) Coordinator, stated that the congress promotes closer collaboration between the government, organic farmer practitioners, private sectors, and all stakeholders to further promote, propagate, and develop organic agriculture.

"Organic agriculture is one of our ways to compete against the global problems and challenges. 

Thus, the program prioritizes certification of the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), the establishment of Organic Connect Hubs, the mass production of organic fertilizers and soil ameliorants, an inventory and promotion of matured organic agriculture technologies, and the designation of Organic Agriculture (OA) zones per municipality or city,” San Juan said.

In connection with this, the DA-Bureau of Agriculture & Fisheries Standards (BAFS) recently conducted a pre-inspection in the Caraga region to assess and verify the level of compliance of the Core PGS Farmer-Members of the Private-Public Partnership-Caraga State University Farmers' Land Renters Association, Inc. and San Isidro Parish Binucayan Farmers Coop.

Cindy Burdeos-Bangod, Regional OA Focal Person, said that the pre-inspection seeks to further determine the farmerscompliance with organic farming regulations and provide recommendations in preparation for the actual inspection for certification of BAFS.

Moreover, the establishment of the P10 million Organic Connect Hub in the municipality of Sibagat, Agusan del Sur is now in its planning phase in preparation for its operation in 2023.

In partnership with the DA-Bureau of Soils & Water Management (BSWM), the Program will continue to distribute Small-Scale Composting Facilities (SSCF) to FCAs and LGUs as the machinery to transform their farm waste into organic fertilizer.

The advocacy of the DA-Caraga started only with a hundred organic farming practitioners in early 2000, but today almost 6,000 farmers, including tribal groups, are now involved in achieving the principles of health, ecology, fairness, and care. As of August 2022, approximately 26,000 hectares of organic farms were cultivated, an increase from the roughly 2,000 hectares recorded in 2010.

"Organic agriculture in the Caraga Region is always on a rising trend. The various ordinances created by the LGUs assure that the promotion of organic agriculture in the region will continue," Rebecca R. Atega, DA-Caraga OIC-Regional Technical Director for Operations said.

Atega added that one of the keys to a sustainable implementation of the OA Program is the various initiatives and involvement of the LGUs and the active engagement of organic farmer-practitioners. (Rhea C. Abao, DA-Caraga RAFIS/PIA Caraga)