DILIMAN, Quezon City—An organic farmer in Tublay, Benguet is calling on all practitioners of conventional farming to shift to the natural method of food production to be able to serve clients better amid emerging health issues.
Concepcion Sotero, owner of Cojoran Farm, made this appeal in an interview on the “Agri Asenso” teleradyo program of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) on DZRH. This is in light of the celebration of the 8th Organic Agriculture Month in November.
Sotero shared some crop production practices in their farm, which is also an ATI-certified Learning Site for Agriculture. These include the use of compost out of weeds and leaves to grow highland vegetables and fruits.
Sotero also serves as the chairperson of the Peer Review Committee of the Tublay Organic Farming Practitioners Agriculture Cooperative (TOFPAC), the first farmers’ organization in the country to be accredited as a Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) group.
The PGS is a new mechanism for organic agriculture certification that is now recognized through the amendment of the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010. It refers to a locally focused quality assurance system developed and practiced by people engaged in organic agriculture.
Under this system, a farmers’ group is capacitated for accreditation as an organic certifying body (OCB) to perform inspection and certification activities. The group will be responsible for verifying that a product sold or labeled as “organic” is produced, processed, prepared, or handled according to the Philippine National Standards.
A certification process for five members of the group as Core PGS Group is a prerequisite for accreditation, along with a series of training and an orientation about PGS. Both the certification and accreditation processes are being done by the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards.
According to Sotero, this system of peer certification among farmers is more affordable compared with the organic agriculture certification provided by third party OCBs.
At present, TOFPAC has 57 farmer-members who practice organic methods and the group hopes that all members will be certified through the PGS.
“It is important that we get certification for our farms so that we can encourage more buyers for our produce. With the certification, our products will have integrity as organic,” she said.
Sotero’s interview aired on DZRH last November 26. The full livestream of this episode is available at https://www.facebook.com/ATIinteractive/videos/2643685449099175/.