Department of Agriculture – Caraga recently reported that as of December 2016, the region already achieved at least 6% or 42,000 hectares of agricultural land cultivated through organic farming.
This figure shows that the Department already attained its target for at least 5% or 35,000 hectares in the region from 2013 to 2017. With this, Caraga already contributed almost 9% of the country’s goal of 477,000 hectares to be converted to organic agriculture.
“We have been doing our best to inspire more farmers in organic farming, let us continue to communicate to them their part for the achievement of this goal,” said Organic Agriculture Focal Person and Chief of Field Operations Rebecca Atega.
Atega shared during the Capability Building Seminar with Organic Agriculture Focal Persons that the milestones of the advocacy has significantly changed the minds and farming strategies of farmers through the interventions provided by the Department and constant coordination with the provincial focal person.
The National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) has integrated system for evaluation and monitoring as one of the components and implementing strategies. “We are also capacitating the technical staff specially the Agricultural Program Coordinating Office (APCO) in helping us validate more organic farms,” Atega said.
One of the directions of Organic Agriculture Program (OAP) is geared towards organic farm certification. This is a procedure of verifying that products conform to certain standards and in the case of organic products, it is primarily the acknowledgement that such products have been produced according to the applicable organic production standards.
Organic certification is the only way to know for sure that a producers’ organic claims are valid. “Without independent third party certification, everybody is free to claim that their products are organic. We need certification to protect consumers,” Atega said.
OAP aims to promote, propagate, further develop and implement the practice of organic agriculture in the Philippines towards a competitive and sustainable organic agriculture industry that contributes to good health, environmental protection and social justice, disaster risk reduction and resilience to climate change, and better farm incomes and sustainable livelihood. (Fretcher D. Magatao 03/07/2017, ruralevolution.net)