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‘Organikong Palayan’ promotes shift to organic rice production model in Pangasinan

To promote the necessary shift from the prevailing rice production model to an organic agriculture model, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is launching a one-year program to enhance the capacities, provide production support, and to institutionalize programs and budget for the promotion of sustainable agriculture among participating LGUs.

The program dubbed “Organikong Palayan - Pangasinan” is in line with the Agri-Pinoy Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and will be implemented by the DA Regional Field Unit in partnership with nongovernment organization and citizens groups.

It seeks to promote organic farming as mandated by Republic Act 10068 – in this case, rice, in in Alaminos City and the municipalities of Bani, Burgos and Dasol. It will be jointly implemented by the DA RFU1, the four Pangasinan LGUs, and La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga).

Alaminos, Bani, Burgos and Dasol are located in Western Pangasinan and are members of the One Pangasinan Alliance of LGUs, an economic alliance that promotes resource sharing for local economic development.

La Liga , a policy research and advocacy non-government organization, is aggressively promoting organic farming in the Philippines.

Otherwise known as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, Republic Act 10068 recognizes the urgency of shifting to an organic agriculture model to veer away from the excessive use of agrochemical inputs used in conventional farming systems.

The law mandates, as a matter of state policy, that organic farming technologies can increase farm productivity, increase farmers’ income, provide better health for farmers and consumers and increase soil fertility by arresting the degradation of the environment.

Through the project, proponents of the project aim to encourage the shift to sustainable agriculture practices among farmers, mobilize support from local governments in terms of policies, programs, and promote sustainable agriculture as a key strategy for local economic development.

A memorandum of agreement was signed by last week by Regional Executive Director Renato A. Maguigad representing the DA and Roland Cabigas, managing director of La Liga for the implementation of the “sustainable agriculture production support for farmer practitioners” in San Fernando, La Unio.

Through the project, farmers will be mobilized through barangay assemblies, targeting a total of 1,400 farmers, to rally support behind the DA’s sustainable, ecological agriculture initiative.

A total of 280 farmers will also undergo season-long training on organic farming of rice in eight learning farms, two learning farms for each of the project areas, to be put up for the purpose.

unpolished organic rice
According to Cabigas, the project is a follow through of the Organic FIELDS Support Program (OFSP) implemented by the DA through the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), La Liga and Go Organic! Philippines in 2008.

La Liga said the rice subsector provides livelihood for Filipinos, employing around four million farmers and farm workers. Land planted to rice covers approximately 40 per cent of the total land cultivated, or approximately 4 million hectares, of the 10 million hectares of land devoted to food production.

“Despite its (rice) significance, the Philippines is a rice importing country, a situation of food insecurity. Clearly, a concerted effort to increase rice productivity is imperative. This is the challenge faced by sustainable agriculture,” Cabigas stressed.

He said different studies on agricultural productivity specifically on rice production cited numerous reasons from a plagued policy environment to dwindling public investments on agriculture.

“This exposes the fact that the gains and promises of rice productivity of the prevailing production model have been short lived. A shift in production methods and systems is therefore necessary,” he said. (La Liga Policy Institute)

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