By Mario Casayuran
The Senate agriculture committee on Monday sought country-wide support for the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) to boost the export of organic agricultural products and improve their competitiveness in the $2.3-trillion aggregate Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) market.
The Philippines, despite being an agricultural country, is yet to achieve the goal of NOAP, where five percent of the country’s agricultural farms should have been converted last year to organic.
Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, committee chairwoman, explained that NOAP is the blueprint of the development and promotion of organic agriculture in the Philippines.
“It covers the promotion and commercialization of organic farming practices, cultivation and adoption of production and processing methods, capacity building of farmers and the education of consumers, among others,’’ she explained.
“Until now, the organic farms in the country is about three percent of all farms,’’ she said.
Villar said she is happy that there are many provinces that are taking initiatives to attain their own targets.
Villar said she was recently invited to an organic festival in Sergio Osmena in Zamboanga del Norte where farmers are working on being 100 percent organic by 2020 or three years from now.
“But I am confident that the new NOAP document for the next six years will map out more successes in organic agriculture as well as stakeholders,” she said.
She noted that organic is the way to go to meet growing demand for agriculture products.
Organic farming, she said, would be a big help to keep the soil healthy.
“We must remember that 95 percent of our food comes from the soil. The simple way is to return the nutrients to the soil through composting and the use of organic fertilizer. People should learn to compost kitchen and garden wastes,” she explained.
Villar said the use of organic fertilizer instead of chemical-based fertilizers is the easiest and most basic way in organic farming.
She stressed that the continued use of chemical fertilizers cause damage to crops, decreased crop production and result to loss in soil fertility.
Soil degradation in the country has reached 38 percent, she pointed out
“It will be a big problem to all of us if the soil will be totally destroyed. The success of organic agriculture will largely rely on the state of our soil,” she said.
The lady senator said she has been providing legislative support to organic agriculture, mentioning the Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016, or Republic Act 10816.
Tags: agriculture products, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), competitiveness, farmers, farming, initiatives, Manila Bulletin, organic farming, Senate committee seeks country-wide support for NOAP
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