A party-list lawmaker on Wednesday pushed for the adoption of organic farming to promote food production and eliminate the degradation of farm soil that chemical fertilizers may cause.
Deputy Speaker Conrad Estrella III of Abono Party-list group said the House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture and Food has created a technical working group to consolidate the proposals that aim to strengthen and promote organic farming in the country.
Estrella, author of the proposed Expanded Organic Agriculture Act, seeks to amend Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 to enhance its efficacy as an instrument for promoting, propagating and developing not only the practice of organic farming but also other sustainable agriculture practices.
“The practice of organic farming and other sustainable agriculture practices must be geared not only towards increasing farm productivity but, as importantly, towards increasing farmers’ incomes,” Estrella said in pushing for the enactment of his bill.
“Experience, again, has taught us that increases in farm productivity do not necessarily result in higher incomes for our farmers. We have long focused our attention to ensuring that farms produce more—but we have sadly neglected the dire need of farmers to earn more and live better,” he added.
Estrella said organic farming and other sustainable agricultural practices will help the farmers to augment their income.
“We need to prioritize small farmers and their organizations because they need support and assistance most. For organic farmers to produce more and earn more, consumer base for organic food and non-food products must be expanded. Thus, we are proposing a nationwide educational and awareness campaign among the benefits of consuming organic products,” he said.
By having his bill enacted, Estrella said: “We are also proposing that in the promotion and establishment of facilities, and processing plants to accelerate the production and commercialization of organic commercialization of organic fertilizers, the production and commercialization of bio-pesticides and bio-herbicides be included.”
Estrella’s bill proposes that the composition of the National Organic Agricultural Board (NOAB) shall be reformed so as “to ensure that only those who are actually and actively engaged in organic farming and other sustainable agricultural practices become members of the board.”
The bill also empowers the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards (BAFPS) to act as the Secretariat of the NOAB, to coordinate the implementation of the National Organic Agriculture Program promulgated by the NOAB, and to maintain a database and showroom of all available organic products and technologies in the market which can be readily accessed by the public,” he said.
The bill, Estrella said, also proposea a new provision that will institutionalize participatory guarantee systems (PGS) that are locally focused quality assurance systems engaging associations or groups of those that are actually practicing organic agriculture.