Mr. Mariano B. Racelis (inset), keynote speaker, delivers his speech during the 4th MIMAROPA Organic Congress. (Photo by: Denice Joelle Benosa)
ODIONGAN, ROMBLON. Best known as the marble-making province of MIMAROPA, Romblon was the venue of the 4th Regional Organic Agriculture Congress (ROAC) last September 19-21, 2016 at Romblon State University (RSU) Main Campus. It was spearheaded by Organic Agriculture Program in collaboration with Agri-business Marketing and Assistance Division. The congress was guided by the theme “Genuine Food for Healthy Living – Save the Earth, Go Organic”.
A total of 345 participants composed of organic farming practitioners and enthusiasts, and Agricultural Extension Workers from the five (5) provinces of MIMAROPA and Puerto Princesa City and students from the RSU attended the three-day congress.
Dr. Arnulfo De Luna, University President, warmly welcomed and thanked everyone for choosing their university as the venue. While Hon. Trina Alejandra F. Fabic, Municipal Mayor, expressed her gratitude to the farmers who plays a vital role in the development organic agriculture sector.
Regional Organic Agriculture Focal Person, Mr. Ronie F. Panoy, had introduced Mr. Mariano B. Racelis who is also an Organic Farmer and a National Organic Agriculture Board Member representing the Luzon Small Farmers. As the keynote speaker, he discussed the importance of advocating organic agriculture and shared their achievements and plans to further strengthen the promotion of organic agriculture program.
He also reported that the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards had already published and disseminated six (6) Philippine National Standards (PNS) relevant to organic agriculture. These are: PNS on Organic Agriculture (Mother Standard), Organic Soil Amendments, Bio-Control Agents, Aquaculture Organic Milled Rice Part 1 and Postharvest Operation, and Organic Milled Rice Part 2, Packaging, Labelling and Quality Standards. These standards provide a uniform approach to minimum requirements in organic farming and are utilize by accredited certifying body.
He also shared that the country’s agriculture area devoted to organic farming has significantly increased from 14,140 hectares in 2006 to 343,387.281 has. in the second quarter of 2016. And based on the report of NOAP, on the second quarter of 2016, 343,387.281 has. out of 358,490.881 has. the target had been converted to organic. Therefore, about 79% out of the 5% target has already been attained.
He also reported that based on the latest data from International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the Philippines ranked as the 44th country utilizes organic area worldwide and 5th in Asia next to China, India, Kazakhstan and Indonesia. Among the ASEAN Countries, the Philippines stands as 2nd in terms of area devoted to organic farm.
Three (3) certified Organic Farm Operators from Oriental Mindoro were also awarded and received a plaque for recognition during the congress. They are: Nelson Gabutero of Gabutero Organic Farm in Bongabong, Dewey Albufera of DJMV Farm in Naujan, and the Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Center (RIARC) of Victoria.
Among the highlights were the presentations of different invited resource speakers. Mr. Patrick B. Belisario, President of OPTA and also a member of IFOAM, had presented the Organic Products Marketing and Value Adding. While Ms. Eliza C. Aquino, University Research Associate in University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Laguna, shared her knowledge about Edible Landscapping. Agro Ecotourism was also discussed by Engr. Raymund G. Inocencio, Ecosystem Management Specialist II and Protected Area Superintendent.
On the other hand, Agri-entrepreneur, Farmer Scientist and the owner of the 4,000 sq.m integrated farm in Victorias City, Negros Occidental which is the famous Peñalosa Farm, Mr. Ramon D. Peñalosa, Jr., who believes that “there is no unproductive soil, only unproductive farmer”, tackled his different techniques and strategies in Organic Farm Development.
Provincial and City Organic Agriculture Focal Persons from the five (5) provinces and city had also presented their accomplishments as well as their plans, targets, and strategies for next year. They are: Mr. Jehu Michael Q. Barrientos from Occidental Mindoro, Mr. Ely H. Vargas from Oriental Mindoro, Mr. Ruel L. Lecaros from Marinduque, Mr. Al. F. Fetalver from Romblon, Dr. Romeo D. Cabungcal from Palawan and Mr. Oscar D. Lapida from the City of Puerto Princesa. Mr. Michael Graciano R. Iledan, Regional Organic Agriculture Report Officer, also reported the Organic Agriculture Program and Updates in the region.
Issues and concerns as well as their resolutions were also raised. Lack of manpower, technology demonstration farm, and training in implementing organic programs; lack of institutionalize database system and organic agriculture profiling; lack of postharvest facilities; and unhealthy utilization of pesticide and insecticide in livestock raising were some of the issues to be solve and be given attention.
Different exhibitors of various organic agriculture products from the five provinces also participated. Other exhibitor from other agencies such as Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, different associations from the host province, and the Romblon State University also presented their proudly own organic products.
The participants also had their educational tour to M.Y Farm, a 6-hectare farm in San Andres which is owned and managed by Mr. Yan Alexander, a French farmer. They also visited Bee Culture and Pili Farm owned by Mr. Rob Robridigo in Brgy. Balogo, Municipality of Calatrava.
The Closing Ceremony was highlighted by the symbolic turn-over and acceptance of the hosting of 5th Organic Agriculture Congress which will be held in Marinduque. Mr. Ruel L. Lecaros along with the other delegates from their province sincerely accepted the responsibility and promised to make the next congress as a successful and memorable like the other provinces had accomplished