Friday, June 19, 2009

NAARAP Secretariat participates in the Philippine National Organic Agriculture conference

ANGOC, in behalf of the NAARAP secretariat, attended the Fifth National Organic Agriculture Conference (NOAC) in Davao City, Philippines last October 14-16, 2008, in time for the celebration of World Food Day. The Conference’s theme, “Sustaining the gains of Organic Agriculture: Enhancing Biodiversity, Providing Safe and Adequate Food”, was timely with the food and fuel crises made more turbulent by the collapse of financial market.

The Conference focused on showcasing current initiatives on organic agriculture from the Philippine government, through the Department of Agriculture (DA), from the civil societies, and from the local governments. From the policymaking side, efforts are well underway, with four house bills in the Congress and another four bills from the Senate formulated to support organic farming. The bills range from eco-labeling to the establishment of bio-organic demonstration farms, the formulation of an Organic Agriculture Program, and the creation of an Organic Farming Commission, and the like.
The three local government initiatives presented at the Conference (two municipalities in Mindanao and one district in Quezon Province) showed very encouraging results. The three local government executives illustrated the superiority of organic agriculture over conventional farming as demonstrated by the crop yield per unit area and income earned by the small farmers in each local area. The experience of local government chiefs showed how good local governance, leadership and will power can make a difference in the lives of small farmers and bring income to the local economy.

Looking back, the first Philippine NOAC, convened in 2004, led to the creation of the Philippine National Organic Agriculture Board (PNOAB). However, it was at the third NOAC in 2006 where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed an executive order calling for the “Promotion and Development of Organic Agriculture in the Philippines”. A series of island-wide consultations to nominate members of the newly organized NOAB and the Technical Working Group was conducted followed by the development of a national organic agriculture road map initially drafted by the Philippine Development Assistance Programme (PDAP).

The Conference was a collaborative effort of the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards (BAFPS), the DA-Regional Field Unit of Region IX, the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB), and the Go Organic Mindanao (GOM), a broad coalition of advocates and practitioners of organic agriculture in Mindanao. NAARAP can learn from the experiences of CSOs’ engagement with the Philippine government on policymaking and how to further explore collaborative efforts in local governance in making organic agriculture work more to bring incomes to the small farmer and to the local economy.

by F.L. Diola, ANGOC

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