Bukidnon urged to go organic in agriculture

Bukidnon going organic to sustain its agriculture resources was among the key insights shared by leaders from different stakeholders on their outlook for agriculture in the province in 2018.

In his comment for the “Bukidnon 2018: Public Outlook” series, organic farming advocate Junah Bayag said the province should become “an organic backyard garden for health, soil, soul and society.”

Only five percent of the farmers in the Philippines have shifted to organic farming, with the country at least 30 years behind the international community in the shift, he said.

“Government agencies should help make the community be aware about learning sites worthy to be visited and learned from,” he added.

Organic farming policy, practice

Republic Act 10068, which became a law in 2010, provided for the development and promotion of organic agriculture in the Philippines.

The Department of Agriculture in Region 10 reported in October 2017 that of the 26,644.47 hectares in the region targetted for organic farming, only 10,034.77 (or 37.7 percent) hectares have gone organic.

The DA, as quoted in media reports, cited that Northern Mindanao’s organic farms are in Misamis Oriental (187 has), Misamis Occidental (7,376 has), Bukidnon (611.17 has), Lanao del Norte (1,820.6), and Camiguin (40 has).

In Bukidnon, the area so far is less than 1 percent of its 349,905 hectares of land used for agriculture. The province passed an organic agriculture code in 2011 patterned after RA 10068 and set an annual allocation of P5 million budget for organic agriculture.

Bayag, tapped by the Agriculture Training Institute as trainer, runs the Jaya Secret Garden, also in Malaybalay City, “where you will experience going, growing and glowing with nature.”

He said in a telephone interview that no other effort can help the shift except for citizens to visit learning sites for organic farms.

“Let’s show to them how important is the role of farmers to feed millions,” Bayag added.

Reynaldo Gil Lomarda, of Greenminds Inc., a non-government organization committed to the preservation and protection of the environment, said they wished for a “comprehensive and collaborative effort from government agencies for the organic agriculture sector.”

Greenminds Inc. runs Umanika Farm in Malaybalay City, another organic farm learning site.

“It would be better if government agencies will complement each other rather than repeat what is being done,” he said. Lomarda suggested that if one talks about training, then the ATI should attend to it. If machineries, then it should be the DA.

“What is happening now is every agency is doing other stuff, thus losing their focus,” he pointed out.

Lomarda said there is no strict on-the-ground monitoring if those claiming to be organic are really such.

“Certification is easy and affordable if we work as one, both private and government,” he added.

Ma. Eloisa Akut, rural organizer of ATI in Northern Mindanao, said the way to go is through the youth and the rural-based groups because they are in the forefront of farming in the communities.

ATI noted that the youth have become less interested in farming so government must have projects that would help reverse the trend.(MINDANEWS)