Farmer groups train for PGS, aiming for organic certification

Wed, 02/21/2024 - 16:19
Participants during workshop


BAYBAY CITY, Leyte - Local farmer groups in Eastern Visayas are taking steps to ensure the quality and integrity of their organic produce by undergoing a 10-day training on Participatory Guarantee System (PGS).

The training aimed to capacitate the participants on the establishment and operations of PGS groups consistent with the organic agriculture standards and corresponding technical regulations.

In a nutshell, the Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) are quality assurance initiatives that follow the production-to-consumption approach in guaranteeing the integrity and quality of organic products. It is widely used and accepted as a quality assurance system in the organic agriculture sector, wherein farmers provide direct assurance to consumers regarding the integrity of the product. 

The training covered five modules which include Module 1: Organic Agriculture Act, its amendments, and the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), Module 2: Organic Agriculture Standards and the National List of Permitted Substances for Organic Agriculture, Module 3: Establishment and Operation of Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), Module 4: Accreditation of Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) Groups as Organic Certifying Bodies, and Module 5: Peer Review and Certification Protocols. Furthermore, the participants were guided on drafting the localized Internal Standards and Manual of Operation and had mock peer reviews.

Participants from both groups shared their motivations for pursuing PGS certification. Oquendo Rizal Sinidman Dinagan Mawacat Cooperative (ORSIDMA) highlighted the desire for a local organic certifying body to offer affordable certification options and address recordkeeping challenges and lack of proper facilities. They expressed confidence in overcoming hurdles and contributing to their community's food security by providing naturally sourced products. Additionally, they aim to promote organic agriculture within their local government unit and establish a store dedicated to organic products within five years.

Daram Organic Farmers Federation (DOFFED) also emphasized their desire to promote organic farming, offer public services, and address issues such as limited access to organic inputs, knowledge gaps about PGS, and misconceptions surrounding organic agriculture. They envision a future with a growing number of organic farmers in their community, a sustainable organic market through the trading post, and a strong PGS group capable of certifying its members.

The training provided valuable insights for both teams. They learned about the importance of trust, knowledge sharing, and collaboration, while also gaining awareness of the necessary standards, record-keeping protocols, and paperwork involved in the certification process. They further expressed their ambitions to become advocates for organic programs, entrepreneurs of organic products, and knowledge-sharing entities through farmer-level training initiatives.

Twenty-five members from the ORSIDMA Cooperative in Calbayog City and DOFFED in Daram, Samar, along with their respective organic focal persons and municipal agriculturists, participated in the first batch of Training of Trainers on PGS held from February 12 to 21, 2024 at ATI-RTC 8, VSU, Baybay City.