North Cot’s Organic Agri Code to help organic farmers

KIDAPAWAN CITY  (MindaNews/ 11 July) — The newly approved Organic Agriculture Code of North Cotabato province will promote and link organic farmers with the international market, board member Loreto Cabaya said.
Cabaya, chair of the Committee on Agriculture, told MindaNews on Wednesday that this is one of the salient features of Provincial Ordinance 521 or the Organic Agriculture Code of the province, which was approved on June 18.

As an initial effort of the provincial government, Cabaya said there was a meeting between the governor, local farmers and the foreign group that can help us establish the linkages

“It is a big boost for the farmers and groups present in the meeting,” he said.

Cabaya added that the provincial government has received invitations to showcase organic products to the organic trade fairs this year in India, Japan, and Germany next year.

The code, authored by then board member, now Aleosan Mayor Vicente Sorupia, shall also define organic agricultural zones in the province.

Section 10 of the ordinance states: “There are hereby set aside organic agricultural zones that will be protected from encroachment and contamination of using chemical based farm inputs, mining, including genetic pollution from genetically-engineered crops and invasive exotic species.”

Cabaya said many farmers are already practicing organic farming in the province but they don’t have access to the market.

Though Sangguniang Panlalawigan has yet to craft the Internal Rules and Regulation (IRR) of the ordinance, Cabaya said the provincial government is now exploring the linkages of the local farmers with foreign buyers particularly in Europe.

Among the groups are Bios Dynamis in Makilala and Tree Life. Bios Dyanmis is known for producing organically-grown rice while Tree Life is known for its coco sugar industry in Carmen.

The Saljay Farm in Pigcawayan has been producing organic fertilizer using vermicomposting since 2007. The farm, owned by 2012 Gawad Saka Awardee and Councilor Greggy Saljay,  is a known producer of dragon fruits.

Cabaya also cited the “One Barangay, One Gulay” program, which also promotes organic farming practices, in the towns of Pigcawayan, Pikit, Aleosan, Libungan, Midsayap and Alamada or P-PALMA.

Moreover, in support to Republic Act No. 10068 or Organic Agriculture Act, the provincial code states that: “efforts shall be initiated to integrate and strengthen organic agriculture concerns in the educational curricula at all levels.“

Aside from the marketing promotion, Cabaya said the provincial government may also issue certification to farmers to be able to get further certification from international accrediting bodies.

Another feature of the provincial code is the establishment of organic agriculture learning centers including those initiated by the private sector, NGOs and POs that  promote, market, and develop organic agriculture. (Keith Bacongco / Mindanews)