Friday, November 27, 2015

Use of Seaweeds Boosts Rice Yields by up to 65%



The Philippines supplies 80% of the worldwide demand for Carrageenan and this might just be the answer in increasing rice productivity in the country. Carrageenen is a carbohydrate found in edible seaweeds was found to increase rice yields by 63.6% to 65.4% according to scientists based at the National Crop Protection Center (NCPC) at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

Field trials made in Bulacan disclosed that small portions of carrageenan added to fertilizers resulted in an increase in the weight of grains. The NCPC team led by Gil Magsino found that by adding 29 milliliters  per liter of carageenan to 3 to 6 bags of fertilizers per hectare resulted in an increase of grain weight by 450 to455 grams as compared to grain weight of  275 grams that is the result of the usual methods of Filipino farmers.

The research was funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology.

Previous studies showed that when carrageenan is degraded or reduced to tiny sizes through irradiation technology, it can promote growth in rice plants and make it resistant to certain pests. Thus, at very small doses, it becomes an effective natural fertilizer.

Higher yield, more savings

Carrageenan can improve rice productivity by strengthening rice stems which, according to the Department of Agriculture, helps prevent lodging or when stems become too weak to carry the weight of the rice grains that they fall to the field.

The substance can also promote resistance to rice plant diseases like the rice tungro virus and bacterial leaf blight.

“This innovation of applying seaweed as fertilizer empowers our farmers to have access to cheaper but highly effective plant growth enhancers that boils down to improved harvest and increased income,” said Science Secretary Mario Montejo.

Because the use of carrageenan was found to decrease the number of bags of fertilizer needed per hectare, this could mean bigger savings for farmers who devote much of their expenses to farming inputs.

The government’s finding could also impact other agricultural workers, namely seaweed farmers, by boosting demand for the substance.
Seaweed is heavily farmed in places like Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga, Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Samar, and Antique. In fact, the Philippines is a major global supplier of carrageenan. In 2011, it reportedly supplied 80% of the world's seaweed needs.

It is commonly used as a thickener or stabilizer for food products like ice cream and salad dressing, or as a binding agent for toothpaste and shampoo.

Source: Pcaarrd DOST





Thursday, November 26, 2015

Not Your Usual Vegetables at the Negros Showroom Market

On Tuesdays and Fridays, a farmers' market occupies the parking space at the Negros Showroom on Lacson Street. Early morning joggers, and the meticulous, health-conscious set make a stop here, and office people find this a convenient, welcome addition to an urban commercial strip.

The farmers themselves bring and sell their fruits and vegetables in this space. From farms in San Carlos City and Barangay Patag, Silay, these crops are transported in protective crates, not sacks, as a rule. Another rule is that only potable water should be used in the final wash of the produce. These rules are just part of the major reason why these fruits and vegetables are not the usual. The fruits and vegetables available at the Negros Showroom farmers' market are GAP-certified.

GAP stands for “Good Agricultural Practices,” the certification of which is issued by the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Product Standards (BAFPS).

The Philippine GAP certification, adopted from the ASEAN and the global GAP, is an export requirement. Therefore, the produce at the Negros Showroom farmers' market are export quality.

A hallmark of a farm that is GAP-certified is its traceability. In the Code of Hygienic Practice for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, “traceability is the ability to follow the movement of produce through specified stages of production and distribution.”

Traceability means that one is able to identify the source of a crop, the conditions--whether of soil, water, weather, or farmer--with which it was planted, grown and picked, and even the farm inputs administered on it. Farm lots are properly coded, mapped, and fenced, water is analyzed for cleanliness, and fertilizers and pesticides are kept at the safest levels. All these agricultural activities and information are duly recorded and maintained for two years.

Good Agricultural Practices strictly uphold food safety, environmental protection, and worker's health, but if issues on these arise, traceability ensures that things can be tracked, addressed and corrected.

From planting, to harvesting, to selling, traceability gives vegetables a history that confidently deals with questions like, how far back into the chain can you claim that a product is “safe”, “fresh”, “clean”, “chemical-free”, and “fair trade”?

Indeed, these fruits and vegetables sold at competitive prices at the Negros Showroom farmers' market are not the usual; not the usual because these are unlike most of the crops in the local market that fall below food safety standards.

In the Philippines, only 39 farms are GAP-certified. Three (3) of these are farmers' organizations are in Negros. The members of these are mostly agrarian reform beneficiaries. They were all trained in GAP, qualified, and are continuously updated and linked to market.

A program called OURFood, or “Optimizing and Upscaling Roles in the Food Supply Chain” of the AFOS Foundation from Germany guides them in GAP. Its local partner is the Association of Negros Producers (ANP) which runs the Negros Showroom.




Margarita Fores discusses the “The Philippines' Ark of Tastes” at Slow Food Summit in Negros

BACOLOD, Philippines - The Third Speaker at the Slow Food Summit is famous for her expert hand at modern Itialian Cooking that gave the public Cibo, Lusso and Grace Park.Her talk is entitled,  “THE PHILIPPINES’ ARK OF TASTES”.  The Slow Food Negros Island Summit, one of the projects of the Slow Food movement which draws attention to endangered food products in the country, on November 27, 11:00 AM at the Social Hall of the Provincial Capitol, Bacolod City.

At the
Slow Food Negros Island Summit, chefs, farmers, slow food advocates—even converts—will unite to give interesting insights on the most pressing issues about food, our food systems, and the way we eat.  

At the summit, an introduction to Slow Food will be made by Pacita Juan, Reena Gamboa-Peña, Mia Gonzaga and Dr. Anabel Villanueva at 8 to 9 a.m. of November 27.

Ige Ramos will speak on “Tuklasin ang Katutubong Kulinaryo ng Pilipinas (discover Filipino dishes) at 9 a.m., and Nico Aberasturi -Homesteading Growing Food Instead of Lawns at 10 a.m., Villanueva said.

Margarita Fores will discuss the “The Philippines' Ark of Tastes” at 11 a.m., Hindy Weber Tantoco and Melanie Go – The Holistic Life at 1:30 p.m., Amy Besa – Green is Gold in Negros at 3 p.m. 


A Slow Food tasting by the Slow Food Negros Island Convivium will be held at noon.



Slow Food Negros Island is a group of volunteers dedicated in saving endangered food, celebrating gastronomic traditions, promoting good, clean, and fair food, as well as building a healthy relationship among producers, chefs, and consumers.

Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement founded in 1989 by Carlo Petrini and a group of passionate individuals. It started when an international fast food franchise expressed its interest in opening a branch at the famous Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy. The citizens protested by sharing a big bowl of penne pasta with the crowds and began chanting “we don’t want fast food, we want slow food.” Perhaps it was the first time that it was officially coined, the tedious processes of producing and preparing various ingredients for select dishes like cheese, wine, fish, meat, as well as the traditional cooking methods have always been practiced in different parts of the world. After that incident in the ‘80s, what started as a protest to fast food grew to a global movement active in over 100 countries.









Tuesday, November 24, 2015

True Food Security for All




True Food Security for All
By: Cielito F. Habito


I’M CONVINCED that a crucial reason we have fared so badly in agriculture relative to our neighbors has been the way too many among us, including past and present policymakers, confuse and equate food security with rice self-sufficiency. To be sure, there are other culprits as well, like the massive leakages of huge sums from the farm budget into private pockets, overcentralized management of the sector, and others. Still, some of those other reasons appear to have been an offshoot of longstanding distortions resulting from our rice self-sufficiency policy.

It’s often said that the success of a Philippine secretary of agriculture—and even of a Philippine president, to some extent—is measured on the basis of our rice production performance. Sadly, for as long as we actually believe that, the less likely it will be that we will achieve the success in agriculture that most of our neighbors have.

Last week, I wrote of four ironies associated with the country’s traditional drive for rice self-sufficiency. One, our annual farm budgets have always been inordinately skewed toward rice, even as our avowed goal of self-sufficiency in the commodity consistently eludes us. Two, the government’s rice budget mostly benefits those who need the least help—that is, the more productive (hence better-off) rice farmers. Three, Malaysia, much richer than us but similarly naturally disadvantaged in rice production vis-à-vis the rice-surplus Mekong river delta countries of Thailand, Vietnam and others, had deliberately not targeted 100-percent rice self-sufficiency. This way, they freed substantial resources that allowed them to strengthen their farm sector overall, and can now raise their rice targets more rationally and realistically over time. Four, the more we pursued 100-percent rice self-sufficiency, the more we made most Filipinos less food-secure by making the commodity unnecessarily more costly, hence less accessible, to the lesser endowed among us.

The last point is very important. It seems to me that many of those mouthing “food security” may be seeing it from an aggregate national perspective of food availability—but missing the critical aspect of accessibility, hence cost, of food at the level of families and communities. One could say outright that Thais, Vietnamese and people from the other Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries are more food secure than Filipinos—not so much because their countries can produce much more rice, as because Filipinos must pay two to three times more for their rice than their Asean neighbors do. And the reason for this is that unlike the vast fertile plains of the Mekong Delta, many of our rice lands can attain comparable yields only through more intensive application of high-cost inputs, including irrigation, fertilizers and mechanization. And when our farm yields range from as high as 200 cavans (50-kilogram sacks) per hectare to as low as 10 cavans, production cost averages out nationally to be quite high—indeed up to two to three times that in our better-endowed neighbors.

Note that some Filipino rice farmers, through no fault of their own, are inherently less productive or end up with more costly yields because of land and agro-climatic conditions less suited to rice—certainly not because they are less competent. The GMS countries are rice-surplus countries not because they have better farmers, but because of the vast, rich and fertile river deltas they possess, making them naturally more richly endowed with rice-conducive lands than Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. As with Indonesia, our archipelagic nature deals us an even greater handicap. Worse, we have allowed domestic shipping costs to be high, owing to the lack of competition due to cabotage rules. Is it any wonder that there’s strong impetus to (illegally) ship in already cheaper rice from our neighbors, when even the cost of shipping it from abroad is also much lower?

It will probably help all Filipinos if we help those farmers who can only squeeze 10-50 cavans per hectare out of their marginal rice lands to shift to crops more suited to their lands—crops that will earn them higher incomes and finally get them out of poverty. It makes no sense to keep them producing rice while staying poor as they do. Once our rice production is focused on our inherently more productive rice lands, then the overall average cost of production of rice in the country will fall, and we can begin to approximate the costs of imported rice. Then we would also help our Filipino poor, as their purchasing power would grow as rice prices go down.

Asean as a region is not only self-sufficient in rice; it produces a surplus and can continue doing so for a time. The Philippines need not aspire to grow all the rice it needs, in the same way that Benguet would be foolhardy to try to grow all the rice it needs, and produce as much rice as, say, Nueva Ecija. In Asean, food security would be best pursued at the regional level, through a stronger regional buffer stock mechanism where the rice-surplus countries can fill the deficits of the rest. That way, rice could be cheaper for all, and Asean peoples, particularly in the rice-deficit countries, would generally be much more food-secure. This, among other things, is what the Asean Economic Community should be about.

Meanwhile, we in the Philippines can take better care of the rest of our agriculture, and address not only the calorie side of food security, but also meet our people’s need for protein- and other nutrient-rich foods as well. We could then do a much better job at pursuing true food security for all.









Ironies in Rice Self-Sufficiency



Ironies in Rice self-sufficiency

By: Cielito F. Habito

More than once, and on different occasions, I’ve heard farmers in Mindanao voice wonder at how too many farmers in Luzon persist in growing rice, even as that crop has failed to lift them out of poverty. In the same breath, they’d cite how they’ve made a good living growing higher-value crops such as rubber, cacao, bananas and oil palm. Rubber farmers, for one, liken their trees to banks’ automatic teller machines that yield money on a regular basis, for minimal “deposits” of fertilizer and basic plant care.

Those Mindanao observers were probably not alluding to more productive rice farmers who can produce 70 to 100 sacks (3-4 tons) of palay per hectare, well above our national average yield of 35 sacks (1.5 tons) per hectare over the last 20 years. We have many of these, and they need little government help. But there are also numerous marginal rice farmers tilling less productive lands, much of these unirrigated, unmechanized and underfertilized owing to lack of access to credit for needed working capital to buy productivity-improving inputs. It’s these rice farmers who might do well to consider planting something more remunerative than rice, especially if the lands they are tilling are less suited to rice anyway. But government, and seemingly Philippine society as a whole, want them to keep on planting rice, in the name of achieving the dream of full rice self-sufficiency—never mind that they are likely to remain in poverty if they do.

Some stark ironies come with our seeming obsession with full rice self-sufficiency. Countless papers written over the years by respected scholars (notably agricultural economists Cristina David, Ramon Clarete, Arsenio Balisacan, Rolando Dy and Roehlano Briones, among others) have observed how rice has traditionally received the lion’s share (up to 70 percent) of our farm budget, at the expense of many other important commodities. And yet rice contributes less than a fifth of the country’s total agricultural value added, and rice farmers are not even the poorest in the Philippine rural sector. It’s the coconut farmers and artisanal fishers who are. Ironically, we have not gotten any nearer the self-sufficiency goal, and have in fact become the world’s largest rice importer. Analyses by the same authors point to another irony: The rice farmers in greater need hardly benefit from the huge sums allocated yearly by government for increased rice production. Evidence indicates that the primary beneficiaries of government budgetary allocations for rice have been the better-off, more productive farmers, not the worst-off among them.

Similarly ironic is the fact that Malaysia, a country now far ahead of us in economic growth and development, has long had the deliberate and more sensible government policy of not targeting 100-percent rice self-sufficiency. And yet Malaysia trades rice actively in both directions, profiting from significant exports of premium-quality rice even as it imports substantial amounts to fill the domestic demand-supply gap. Since the 1980s, it had targeted to produce only 65-85 percent of its rice requirements. The Malaysians had long recognized that relative to the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma (Myanmar), they are naturally disadvantaged in the production of rice, along with neighbors Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. Our countries lack the vast river deltas highly favorable to rice production with which the GMS is richly endowed. Malaysian policymakers understood that the resources needed to fill the domestic rice gap could be put to much better use, such as supporting lucrative farm export crops like oil palm and rubber. These crops have earned them ample foreign exchange, enabling them to import rice when they need it, even from as far as Latin America (as I learned from a Malaysian former classmate in graduate school, who had been responsible for sourcing his country’s rice imports).

The most unfortunate irony of all is that under current circumstances, the more we pursue 100-percent rice self-sufficiency, the more we make most Filipinos food-insecure. Food security and food self-sufficiency are two different things. Food security denotes reliable access to adequate, affordable, safe and nutritious food. Our self-sufficiency policy has had the perhaps unwitting effect of making rice much more expensive to Filipino consumers than it needs to be, with the Filipino poor suffering the most.

It’s the basic economic law of diminishing returns at work: Once beyond the level of maximum productivity that natural endowments will support, the cost of producing more and more of the product rises, often steeply. Unlike the GMS countries, our point of natural maximum productivity appears to be well below our level of sufficiency. For us, full self-sufficiency can only come at the inevitable cost of much higher rice prices or huge taxpayer subsidies, posing an undue penalty to all Filipinos, especially the poor. Indeed, when poverty incidence rose in 2014, it was not because incomes fell (they had actually risen). The National Economic and Development Authority clarified that the culprit was the inordinate rise in the price of rice, the single largest item in the family budgets of poor Filipino households.

The sooner we help marginal (hence high-cost) rice farmers shift to more lucrative crops and focus our rice production on those farms most productively endowed for it, the sooner we can lower our overall rice production costs and prices—and ironically, the more food-secure Filipinos, especially the poor, will become.


Source: http://opinion.inquirer.net/86268/ironies-in-rice-self-sufficiency





Monday, November 23, 2015

Negros Occidental Spearheads the Revival of the Philippine Silk Industry



A province in the Visayas is spearheading the revival of the once blooming silk industry in the Philippines. Teaming up with a Japanese NGO, the Philippine government  is set to restart an industry that has flourished even during Pre-Hispanic times.

The Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) sees the growth potential of the silk industry and is formulating a long-term strategy in increasing silk  production. In a project by the Organization of Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement in Negros (OISCA) that was initiated in 1999, OISCA Negros Occidental now supplies the highly valued materials for the kimono industry.

According to FIDA  administrator Cecilia Gloria Soriano, the majority of the global silk market is supplied by China owing to its huge silk production capacity. In order to be competitive in the global silk market, it would entail the tapping of other partners in the local industry, such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that will facilitate in the establishment of a textile mill which will capture the production.

Local entrepreneurs and investors are encourage to put up textile mills since markets for possible products are now existing. FIDA in partnership with OISCA will identify products that will serve the needs of markets in Europe, the US and Asia.

OISCA accounted for 80% of the country’s silk production in 2012. Negros Occidental was also discovered to be a suitable location ion the growing of mulberry trees whose leaves are the food of silkworms.

The sericulture program generated jobs for 150 farmers at the OISCA Training Center  in Tabunan, Bago City, Negros Occidental.  This was through the introduction of cocoon production, silk reeling, thread plying, weaving and the manufacture of finished products of shawls, gowns, bag and a variety of products based on silk fabric.

As a livelihood project, increased production is sought since the Silk Trading Association of Japan approached their NGO seeking alternative sources of silk since Japanese production has declined because younger Japanese no longer wanted to go into silk-farming.

It is hoped that Negros Occidental will continue to increase its production. The challenge is that Negros is still oriented towards sugar production and that it took a lot of orientations and meetings before it was deemed acceptable to the farmers.

OISCA is optimistic that more and more farmers will go into sericulture and silk production since the climate in Negros Occidental is conducive to sericulture that requires a temperature   between 24 to 28 degrees Celsius.





Sunday, November 22, 2015

Social Entrepreneur To Talk On "Making Agriculture Smart and Sexy" at Slow Food Summit

Social Entrepreneur Cherrie Atilano
BACOLOD, Philippines - A 28-year-old Negrense social entrepreneur, agriculturist and farmer, will talk about making agriculture smart and sexy at the eighth installation of Organic Market at The Slow Food Negros Island Summit happening on November 27 at the Social Hall of the Capitol Building in this city.

Cherrie Atilano, who grew up in Silay City in this island was a scholar of the Provincial Capitol under the Pagkaon Scholarship Program, will talk on "Making Agriculture Smart and Sexy" on Friday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Atilano graduated magna cum laude from the Visayas State University with a degree on agriculture. She is a founder of AGREA Agricultural Systems International, and a consultant of the Department of Agrarian Reform.

She has worked at the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation as executive assistant of its founder, Antonio Meloto, and at Ayala Land Inc. as landscape horticulturist supervisor and head of Land Development.

At the
Slow Food Negros Island Summit, chefs, farmers, slow food advocates—even converts—will unite to give interesting insights on the most pressing issues about food, our food systems, and the way we eat.  

At the summit, an introduction to Slow Food will be made by Pacita Juan, Reena Gamboa-Peña, Mia Gonzaga and Dr. Anabel Villanueva at 8 to 9 a.m. of November 27.

Ige Ramos will speak on “Tuklasin ang Katutubong Kulinaryo ng Pilipinas (discover Filipino dishes) at 9 a.m., and Nico Aberasturi -Homesteading Growing Food Instead of Lawns at 10 a.m., Villanueva said.

Margarita Fores will discuss the “The Philippines' Ark of Tastes” at 11 a.m., Hindy Weber Tantoco and Melanie Go – The Holistic Life at 1:30 p.m., Amy Besa – Green is Gold in Negros at 3 p.m. 


A Slow Food tasting by the Slow Food Negros Island Convivium will be held at noon.



Slow Food Negros Island is a group of volunteers dedicated in saving endangered food, celebrating gastronomic traditions, promoting good, clean, and fair food, as well as building a healthy relationship among producers, chefs, and consumers.

Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement founded in 1989 by Carlo Petrini and a group of passionate individuals. It started when an international fast food franchise expressed its interest in opening a branch at the famous Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy. The citizens protested by sharing a big bowl of penne pasta with the crowds and began chanting “we don’t want fast food, we want slow food.” Perhaps it was the first time that it was officially coined, the tedious processes of producing and preparing various ingredients for select dishes like cheese, wine, fish, meat, as well as the traditional cooking methods have always been practiced in different parts of the world. After that incident in the ‘80s, what started as a protest to fast food grew to a global movement active in over 100 countries.









Negros Island Is The Sweet Spot of the Philippines.


Negros Island Is The Sweet Spot of the Philippines.



Slow Food Negros Island Summit to be held in Bacolod, Nov. 27

BACOLOD, Philippines - Chefs, farmers, slow food advocates - even converts, unite at The Slow Food Negros Island Summit to give interesting insights on the most pressing issues about food, our food systems, and the way we eat.  The Slow Food Negros Island Summit will be held at the Social Hall of the Capitol Building in Bacolod City on November 27, Dr. Anabel Villanueva said yesterday.

At the summit, an introduction to Slow Food will be made by Pacita Juan, Reena Gamboa-Peña, Mia Gonzaga and Villanueva at 8 to 9 a.m. of November 27.

Ige Ramos will speak on “Tuklasin ang Katutubong Kulinaryo ng Pilipinas (discover Filipino dishes) at 9 a.m., and Nico Aberasturi -Homesteading Growing Food Instead of Lawns at 10 a.m., Villanueva said.

Margarita Fores will discuss the “The Philippines' Ark of Tastes” at 11 a.m., Hindy Weber Tantoco and Melanie Go – The Holistic Life at 1:30 p.m., Amy Besa – Green is Gold in Negros at 3 p.m. and Cherrie Attilano – Making Agriculture Smart and Sexy at 4 p.m., she added.

A Slow Food tasting by the Slow Food Negros Island Convivium will be held at noon, she said.







Slow Food Negros Island is a group of volunteers dedicated in saving endangered food, celebrating gastronomic traditions, promoting good, clean, and fair food, as well as building a healthy relationship among producers, chefs, and consumers.

Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement founded in 1989 by Carlo Petrini and a group of passionate individuals. It started when an international fast food franchise expressed its interest in opening a branch at the famous Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy. The citizens protested by sharing a big bowl of penne pasta with the crowds and began chanting “we don’t want fast food, we want slow food.” Perhaps it was the first time that it was officially coined, the tedious processes of producing and preparing various ingredients for select dishes like cheese, wine, fish, meat, as well as the traditional cooking methods have always been practiced in different parts of the world. After that incident in the ‘80s, what started as a protest to fast food grew to a global movement active in over 100 countries.






Negros Island.  The SWEET Spot of the Philippines.



Making Agriculture Smart and Sexy

Social Entrepreneur Cherrie Atilano
BACOLOD, Philippines - A 28-year-old Negrense social entrepreneur, agriculturist and farmer, will talk about making agriculture smart and sexy at the eighth installation of Organic Market at The Slow Food Negros Island Summit happening on November 27 at the Social Hall of the Capitol Building in this city.

Cherrie Atilano, who grew up in Silay City in this island was a scholar of the Provincial Capitol under the Pagkaon Scholarship Program, will talk on "Making Agriculture Smart and Sexy" on Friday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Atilano graduated magna cum laude from the Visayas State University with a degree on agriculture. She is a founder of AGREA Agricultural Systems International, and a consultant of the Department of Agrarian Reform.

She has worked at the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation as executive assistant of its founder, Antonio Meloto, and at Ayala Land Inc. as landscape horticulturist supervisor and head of Land Development.

At the
Slow Food Negros Island Summit, chefs, farmers, slow food advocates—even converts—will unite to give interesting insights on the most pressing issues about food, our food systems, and the way we eat.  

At the summit, an introduction to Slow Food will be made by Pacita Juan, Reena Gamboa-Peña, Mia Gonzaga and Dr. Anabel Villanueva at 8 to 9 a.m. of November 27.

Ige Ramos will speak on “Tuklasin ang Katutubong Kulinaryo ng Pilipinas (discover Filipino dishes) at 9 a.m., and Nico Aberasturi -Homesteading Growing Food Instead of Lawns at 10 a.m., Villanueva said.

Margarita Fores will discuss the “The Philippines' Ark of Tastes” at 11 a.m., Hindy Weber Tantoco and Melanie Go – The Holistic Life at 1:30 p.m., Amy Besa – Green is Gold in Negros at 3 p.m. 


A Slow Food tasting by the Slow Food Negros Island Convivium will be held at noon.



Slow Food Negros Island is a group of volunteers dedicated in saving endangered food, celebrating gastronomic traditions, promoting good, clean, and fair food, as well as building a healthy relationship among producers, chefs, and consumers.

Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement founded in 1989 by Carlo Petrini and a group of passionate individuals. It started when an international fast food franchise expressed its interest in opening a branch at the famous Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy. The citizens protested by sharing a big bowl of penne pasta with the crowds and began chanting “we don’t want fast food, we want slow food.” Perhaps it was the first time that it was officially coined, the tedious processes of producing and preparing various ingredients for select dishes like cheese, wine, fish, meat, as well as the traditional cooking methods have always been practiced in different parts of the world. After that incident in the ‘80s, what started as a protest to fast food grew to a global movement active in over 100 countries.








Negros Island.  The SWEET Spot of the Philippines.

Republic Act 10068 or Organic Agriculture Act of 2010

Organic farming in the Philippines


Republic of the Philippines
CONGRESS OF THE PHILIPPINES
Metro Manila
Fourteenth Congress
Third Regular Session

Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-seventh day of July, two thousand nine.

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10068
AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND PROMOTION OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN THE PHILIPPINES AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

Section 1 Title. - This Act shall be known as the "Organic Agriculture Act of 2010".
Section 2 Declaration of Policy. - It is hereby declared the policy of the State to promote, propagate, develop further and implement the practice of organic agriculture in the Philippines that will cumulatively condition and enrich the fertility of the soil, increase farm productivity, reduce pollution and destruction of the environment, prevent the depletion of natural resources, further protect the health of farmers, consumers, and the general public, and save on imported farm inputs. Towards this end, a comprehensive program for the promotion of community-based organic agriculture systems which include, among others, farmer-produced purely organic fertilizers such as compost, pesticides and other farm inputs, together with a nationwide educational and promotional campaign for their use and processing as well as adoption of organic agriculture system as a viable alternative shall be undertaken.
The State recognizes and supports the central role of the farmers, indigenous people and other stakeholders at the grassroots in this program.
Section 3 Definition of Terms. - For purposes of this Act, the following terms shall be defined as follows:
(a) Organic refers to the particular farming and processing system, described in the standards and not in the classical chemical sense. The term "organic" is synonymous in other languages to "biological" or "ecological". It is also a labeling term that denotes products considered organic based on the Philippine National Standards for organic agriculture.
(b) Organic agriculture includes all agricultural systems that promote the ecologically sound, socially acceptable, economically viable and technically feasible production of food and fibers. Organic agricultural dramatically reduces external inputs by refraining from the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and pharmaceuticals. It also covers areas such as, but not limited to, soil fertility management, varietal breeding and selection under chemical and pesticide-free conditions, the use of biotechnology and other cultural practices that are consistent with the principles and policies of this Act, and enhance productivity without destroying the soil and harming farmers, consumers and the environment as defined by the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movement (IFOAM): Provided, That the biotechnology herein to shall not include genetically modified organisms of GMOs.
(c) Organic production system is a system designed to:
(1) enhance biological diversity within the whole system;
(2) increase soil biological activity;
(3) maintain long-term soil fertility;
(4) recycle wastes of plant and animal origin in order to return nutrients to the land, thus minimizing the use of nonrenewable resources;
(5) rely on renewable resources in locally organized agricultural system;
(6) promote the healthy use of soil, water and air as well as minimize all forms of pollution thereto that may result from agricultural practices;
(7) develop and promote the use of biotechnology in agriculture;
(8) handle agricultural products with emphasis on careful processing methods in order to maintain the organic integrity and vital qualities of the product at all stages; and
(9) become established on any existing farm through a period of convention, the appropriate length of which is determined by site-specific factors such as the history of the land, and type of crops and livestock to be produced.
(d)Conversion period refers to the time between the start of the organic management and the certification of crops, animal husbandry or a aquaculture products as organic.
(e) Biodegradable wastes refer to organic matter for compost/ organic fertilizer for the organic cultivation, farming of food crops and includes discards segregated farm non-biodegradable wastes coming from the kitchen/household (leftovers, vegetables and fruit peelings and trims, fish/fowl cleanings, seeds, bones, soft paper used as food wrap and the like), yard or garden (leaves, grasses, weeds and twigs), market (wilted, decayed or rotten vegetables and fruits, fish/fowl cleanings, bones) and farm wastes (grass clippings, dead or decayed plants, leaves, fruits, vegetables, branches, twigs and the like).
(f) Ecologically-sound refers to a state, quality or condition of a product, practice, system, development mode, culture, environment and the like, in accord with the 1987 Philippine Constitution, and as expounded in the above definition of organic agriculture.
(g) Commercialization is process of including a new agricultural and fishery technology either as product, process or service that has undergone the intensive innovative activities of assessment, promotion and transfer for economic benefit.
(h) Certification is the procedure by which official certification bodies or officially recognized certification bodies provide written or equivalent assurance that foods or food control systems conform to requirements.
(i) Accreditation is the procedure by which a government agency having jurisdiction formally recognizes the competence of an inspection and/or certification body to provide inspection and certification services.
(j) First party certification is defined as when the certification criteria and rules are set and monitor/enforced by the producer or company itself.
(k) Second party certification is defined as when the certification criteria and rules are set by buyers or industry organizations.
(l) Third party certification or independent certification is defined as when the firm requires that its supplies meet a certain standard and requests an independent organization that is not involved in the business relationship to control the compliance of the suppliers.
(m) Organic food establishment refers to an entity, whether local or foreign, that produces inputs acceptable for organic agriculture.
Section 4 Coverage. - The provisions of this Act shall apply to the development and promotion of organic agriculture and shall include, but not limited to, the following:
(a) Policy formulation on regulation, registration, accreditation, certification and labeling on organic agriculture;
(b) Research, development and extension of appropriate, sustainable environment and gender-friendly organic agriculture;
(c) Promotion and encouragement of the establishment of facilities, equipment and processing plants that would accelerate the production and commercialization of organic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other commercialization of organic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other appropriate farm inputs; and
(d) Implementation of organic agricultural programs, projects and activities, including the provision and delivery of support services with focus on the farmers and other stakeholders.
Section 5 National Organic Agricultural Program. - There is hereby established a comprehensive organic agricultural program through the promotion and commercialization of organic farming practices, cultivation and adoption of production and processing methods which have already been developed, or to be developed, continuing research and upgrading thereof, the capacity building of farmers and the education of consumers thereon, the extension of assistance to local government units (LGU's), peoples' organizations (POs), non-government organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders including individuals and groups who are practicing and promoting these methods as well as those who are willing to do other pertinent activities, and documentation and evaluation of the program.
Section 6 National Organic Agricultural Board (NOAB). - To carry out the policy and the program provided in this Act, there is hereby created a NOAB which shall be the policy-making body and shall provide direction and general guidelines for the implementation of the National Organic Agricultural Program. The NOAB shall be attached to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The NOAB shall ensure the full participation of POs, NGOs and the general public through coordination and consultative mechanisms such as, but not limited to, public hearings, meetings and joint projects.
Section 7 Composition of the NOAB. - The NOAB shall consist of:
(a) The Secretary of Agriculture, or his duly authorized permanent representative, with a rank of Undersecretary, as Chairperson;
(b) The Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, or his duly authorized permanent representative, as Vice Chair;
(c) The Secretary of Science and Technology, or his duly authorized permanent representative;
(d) The Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, or his duly authorized permanent representative;
(e) The Secretary of Education, or his duly authorized permanent representative;
(f) The Secretary of Agrarian Reform, or his duly authorized permanent representative;
(g) The Secretary of Trade and Industry, or his duly authorized permanent representative;
(h) The Secretary of Health, or his duly authorized permanent representative;
(i) Thee (3) representatives from the small farmers; and
(j) A representative each from the NGOs involved in sustainable agriculture for at least three (3) years; agricultural colleges and universities; and private sector or agribusiness firms; as members.
The designated aforementioned representatives of the various departments shall be occupying positions not lower than a bureau director level and shall be on a conterminous basis.
The representatives of small farmers and NGOs and of agricultural colleges and universities shall be chosen by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Science and Technology, respectively, from among nominees submitted by their respective national organizations. These representatives must be conversant in organic agriculture and committed to the policies and programs provided under this Act.
The existing National Organic Agriculture Board created pursuant to Executive Order No. 481 shall continue to function until the new NOAB created herein has been constituted pursuant to Section 8 hereof.
Section 8. Organization of the NOAB. - Within sixty (60) working days from the effectivity of this Act, the national organizations of small farmers, of NGOs and of agricultural colleges and universities shall submit their respective nominees to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Science and Technology, as the case may be, who shall evaluate the qualifications of the nominees and appoint the most members to the NOAB.
The Chairperson shall call the members of the NOAB, or a majority tereof if not all have been designated, to a meeting to organize themselves and prescribe its rules and procedure for the attainment of the objectives of this Act. A majority of all the members of the NOAB shall constitute a quorum.
The NOAB shall also determine its budget, including travel expenses, allowances and per diems of its nongovernment members when attending official NOAB meetings or attending to maters assigned to them subject to accounting and auditing rules and regulations.
Section 9 Powers and Functions of NOAB. - The NOAB shall have the following powers and functions:
(a) Formulate policies, plans, programs and projects to develop and promote organic agriculture, production, processing and trade;
(b) Oversee the successful implementation of the National Organic Agricultural Program;
(c) Identify sources of financing to expand organic agriculture;
(d) Monitor and evaluate the performance of programs for appropriate incentives;
(e) Undertake measures for the international recognition of local certification of organic products;
(f) Call upon any government agency to carry out and implement programs and projects identified by the NOAB;
(g) Call upon private sectors, POs and NGOs and the academe to provide advice on matters pertaining to organic agriculture and conduct of capability-building initiatives to farmers, producers, extension workers, consumers and other stakeholders in agriculture sector in coordination with the Agricultural Training Institute;
(h) Submit annual and other periodic reports to the President, Secretary of the DA and Congress of the Philippines through the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM);
(i) Promulgated such rules and regulations and exercise such other powers and functions as may be necessary to carry out effectively the purposes and objectives of this Act; and
(j) Perform such functions as may be necessary for its effective operations and for the continued enhancement, growth or development of organic agriculture.
Section 10 The Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards (BAFPS) of the DA. - The BAFPS of the DA shall be strengthened and empowered in terms of establishing functional divisions and incremental staffing to serve as the national technical and administrative secretariat of the NOAB with the member agencies providing additional staff support as the need arises.
Section 11 Functions, Duties and Responsibilities of the BAFPS, in addition to its existing functions and responsibilities shall perform the following functions, duties and responsibilities for purpose of this Act:
(a) Implement organic agriculture programs and projects approved by the NOAB;
(b) Update the NOAB on the status of the programs, projects and activities undertaken for the development and promotion of organic agriculture;
(c) Create effective networking with the various stakeholders involved in organic production; and
(d) Perform such other functions, duties and responsibilities as may be necessary to implement this Act and as directed by the NOAB.
Section 12 Work Plan. - In line with the national Organic Agricultural Program, the BAFPS shall submit to the Board for approval the following:
(a) A plan of bringing the program down to the grassroots, utilizing available personnel and facilities on the local level and those of LGUs;
(b) A pattern of cooperation and mutual assistance with LGUs, POs and NGOs, which will maximize people empowerment and participatory approaches to program formulation, implementation and monitoring; and
(c) A schedule of short-term, medium-term and long-term targets on research and development, marketing, trade promotion/initiatives, capacity building, among others.
Section 13 Organic Agriculture and Protection of the Environment. - The NOAB shall constantly devise and implement ways and means not only of producing organic fertilizes and other farms inputs and needs on and off the farm but also of helping to alleviate the problems of industrial waste and community garbage through disposal through appropriate methods of sorting, collecting and composting. The BAFPS shall conduct continuing studies, with consultations among the people and officials involved as well as POs and NGOs, in order to advise local governments, from the barangay to the provincial level, on the collection and disposal of garbage and waste in such a way as to provide raw materials for the production of organic fertilizers and other farm imputs.
Section 14 Local Executive Committees. - Every provincial governor shall, insofar as practicable, form a provincial technical committee, and which shall, in coordination with and assistance of the BAFPS/DA - Regional Field Units (RFUs) implement activities in line with the National Organic Agricultural Program within each province.
Every municipal mayor shall likewise, insofar as practicable, form a municipal technical committee for purposes of implementing activities in line with the National Organic Agricultural Program within each municipality.
A local government unit that intends to shift its area of responsibility to organic agriculture must ensure that local industries have been adequate informed and consulted and that a viable plan to ensure supply for vulnerable industries is in place.
The governors shall monitor implementation of and compliance with this Act within their respective jurisdictions.
Section 15. Accreditation of Organic Certifying Body. - The BAFPS is hereby designated and authorized to grant official accreditation to organic certifying body or entity. The BAFPS is tasked to formulate the necessary rules and procedures in the accreditation of organic certifying body: Provided, That there shall be atleast one (1) accredited organic certifying body each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao or in case of only (1) organic certifying body is accredited, it shall have at least one (1) satellite office or processing unit each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao
Section 16. Registration of Organic Food and Organic Input Producers. - All organic food and input establishments must register with the director, BAFPS, registration under this section shall begin within ninety (90) days of the enactment of this Act. Each such registration shall be submitted to director through an electronic portal and shall contain such information as the director by guidance may determine to be appropriate. Such registration shall contain the following information:
(a) The name, address and emergency contact information of each organic food or input establishment that the registrant owns or operates;
(b) The primary purpose and business activity of each organic food or input establishment, including the dates of operation if the organic food establishment is seasonal;
(c) A list of the organic food or input produced and corresponding brand names;
(d) For organic food establishment, the name, address and contact information of the organic food certifying body that certified the organic products sold by the company;
(e) An assurance that the registrant will notify the director of any change in the products, function or legal status of the domestic food establishment (including cessation of business activities) not later than 30 days after such change; and
(f) For organic input producers, a list of materials used in the production of each particular input
Section 17 Labeling of Organic Produce. - The label of organic produce shall contain the name, logo or seal of the organic certifying body and the accreditation number issued by the BAFPS. Only third party certification is allowed to be labeled as organically produced.
Section 18 Retailing of Organic Produce. - Retail establishments or stores of organic produce shall designate a separate area to display the organic produce to avoid mixing it with non-organic produce.
Section 19 Availability of Trading Post for Organic Inputs. - Local chief executives shall establish, as far as practicable, at least one (1) trading post for organic inputs for every LGU in the area of jurisdiction.
Section 20 Research, Development and Extension. - The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), as the lead agency, shall coordinate with the other agencies of the DA, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Education (DepED), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the strategic agricultural-based sate universities and colleges (SUCs), including private organizations, to develop, enhance, support and consolidate activities and related technologies for the formulation and implementation of a unified and integrated organic agriculture RDE plan and programs for the national to the field level. The organic agriculture RDE plans and programs shall include, but not limited to the following:
(a) Research, development and commercialization of appropriate, innovative and viable organic agricultural technologies;
(b) Nationwide promotion of developed and commercially viable biodegradable farm wastes and by-products through various extension strategies to accelerate the production, use and distribution of organic fertilizers; and
(c) Conduct research for market development, policy formulation, regulation and certification.
Section 21. Creation of Organic Agriculture RDE Network. - An organic agriculture RDE network shall be organized by the BAR, composed of research and educational institutions, LGUs, nongovernment agencies and the recognized association of organic fertilizer manufacturers and distributors, agricultural engineers, agriculturists, soil technologists, farmers group and/or associations.
Section 22. RDE Centers. - National, regional and provincial organic R & D and extension centers shall be organized, established and integrated as a major component of the existing RDE centers of DA, the DOST, the DENR, SUCs and the LGUs. These will be strengthened and enhanced to spearhead the integrated program to develop and promote organic agriculture throughout the country.
Section 23. Organic Agriculture in the Formal and Non-formal Sectors. - The National Government, through the DepED and in coordination with concerned government agencies, NGOs and private institutions, shall strengthen the integration of organic agriculture concerns in school curricula at all levels.
Section 24. Incentives. - The government shall extend incentives for the production and propagation of organic farm inputs by maximizing their use in all government and government supported agricultural production, research and demonstration programs. Incentive shall also be provided to farmers whose farms have been duly certified as compliant to the Philippine National Standards (PNS). Further, the DA may give cash reward in recognition of the best organic farm in the country. The DA, the DAR, the DOST, the DILG, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the DepED, the Department of Finance (DOF), the Land Bank of the Philippine (LBP), and other government lending and non-lending institutions shall also assist organic input producers and organic farmers through the provision of adequate financial, technical, marketing and other services and resources. These include, but shall not be limited to, the following:
(a) Exemption from the payment of duties on the importation of agricultural equipment, machinery and implements as provided under Republic Act No. 9281, which amends Republic Act No. 8435 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA);
(b) Identification by LGUs of local taxes that may be offered as incentives to organic input production and utilization;
(c) Provision of preferential rates and special window to organic input producers and users by the LBP;
(d) Subsidies for certification fees and other support services to facilitate organic certification;
(e) Zero-rated value-added tax (VAT) on transactions involving the sale/purchase of bio-organic products, whether organic inputs or organic produce; and
(f) Income tax holiday and exemption for seven (7) years, starting from the date of registration of organic food and organic input producers on all income taxes levied by the National Government.
The tax incentives shall be given only to purely organic agriculture entities/farmers and shall be subject to the accreditation of the BAFPS and periodic reporting by the BAFPS to the DOF: Provided, That the said incentives shall be available only to micro, small and medium enterprises as defined under Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9501 or the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
Section 25. Appropriations. - The sum of Fifty million pesos (Php50, 000, 000.00) and the existing budget for the promotion of organic farming of the DA is hereby appropriated for the initial year of implementation of this Act. Thereafter, such amount as may be necessary for the continuous operation of the NOAB and the implementation of the program shall be included in the annual General Appropriation Act (GAA).
The NOAB is hereby authorized to solicit and accept assistance or facilities in the form of grants from individuals and entities here and abroad, and to utilize these funds and resources for purposes of this Act, subject to the usual budget, accounting and auditing rules and regulations.
Section 26. Penal Provision. - Any person who willfully and deliberately:
(a) obstructs the development of propagation of organic agriculture, or the manufacture, production, sale or use of organic agricultural inputs;
(b) refuses without just cause to extend the support and assistance required under this Act; and
(c) mislabels or claims that the product is organic when it is not in accordance with the existing standards for Philippine organic agriculture or this Act shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment of not less than one (1) month nor more than six (6) months, or a fine of not more than Fifty thousand pesos (P50, 000.00), or both, at the discretion of the court. If the offender is a corporation or a juridical entity, the official who ordered or allowed the commission of the offense shall be punished with the same penalty. If the offender is in the government service, he shall in addition, be dismissed from the office.
Section 27. Implementing Rules and Regulations. - The NOAB shall adopt rules and regulation to implement the provisions of this Act within ninety (90) days from the effectivity of this Act and submit the same to the COCAFM for review and approval. In the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations, the DOF shall be consulted in connection with the tax incentive provided under Section 24 hereof.
Section 28. Annual Report. - The NOAB shall render an annual report to both House of Congress on the accomplishment of the program. A review on the viability of the program shall be made by the concerned agencies after three (3) years of its implementation.
Section 29. Congressional Oversight Committee. - The COCAFM shall be the congressional oversight committee for purposes of this Act. The COCAFM shall review and approve the implementing rules and regulations of this Act and also perform the following functions:
(a) Monitor and ensure the proper implementation of this Act.
(b) Review the proper implementation of the programs on organic agriculture and the use of its funds;
(c) Review the performance of the NOAB; and
(d) Such other functions it deems necessary.
Section 30. Separability Clause. - if any provisions of this Act is declared invalid or unconstitutional, the other provisions not affected thereby shall remain in full force and effect.
Section 31. Repealing Clause. - All laws, presidential decrees, executive orders, presidential proclamations, rules and regulations or parts thereof contrary to or inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
Section 32. Effectivity. - This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days following its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation or in the Official Gazette, whichever comes first.

Approved,
PROSPERO C. NOGRALES
Speaker of the House of Representatives
JUAN PONCE ENRILE
President of the Senate
This Act which is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 3264 and House Bill No. 7066 was finally passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on February 1, 2010.
MARILYN B. BARUA-YAP
Secretary General House of Representatives
EMMA LIRIO-REYES
Secretary of the Senate
Approved: APRIL 06, 2010
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO
President of the Philippines









 

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