Koronadal LGU pushes organic farming

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 23 Sept) – Upbeat with the prospects of the thriving organic agriculture industry, the city government here is pushing for the massive adoption by local farmers of the natural or traditional farming method.

City Mayor Peter Miguel said the local government is presently studying various “best practices” and technologies on organic agriculture for possible implementation in various farming areas within the city’s 27 barangays.

He said they are specifically trying to learn from the experiences of local governments and institutions that have adopted and ventured into organic farming.

“We’ve adopted organic farming as one of our priority programs and we’re in the process of educating our farmers regarding the method to encourage their adoption,” he said in the city government’s radio program Kanami Koronadal.

Miguel said the city agriculture office has been organizing study tours for local farmers to the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato and several organic farming areas in Region 12.

Southwestern Mindanao, which produced almost half of the 106.55 metric tons (MT) of premium organic rice exported by the country to various foreign markets from May to July this year, has around 50 hectares of organic rice plantation areas located in M’lang town in North Cotabato and Sto. Nino in South Cotabato.

At USM, Miguel said local farmers are trained on composting and the production of organic fertilizers through the utilization of available farm wastes and resources, among them rice straws and corn cobs.

To complement such move, the mayor ordered the city environment and natural resources office (Cenro) to intensify the enforcement of a local ordinance that bans the burning of rice straws and corn cobs in the area.

Augustus Bretana, Cenro chief, said they have initially summoned seven farmers from three barangays in the city for violation of such prohibition, which is embodied in City Ordinance No. 5, series of 2009.

He said the violators, who were caught in the act burning rice straws during Cenro’s enforcement activities, are from barangays Saravia, San Isidro and San Jose.

Bretana said the ordinance has set a fine of P500 for the first offense, P1,000 for the second offense and P2,000 for a third infraction.

Through the enforcement of the ordinance, Miguel said they’re hoping to instill among local farmers the value of saving the rice straws and eventually turn them into organic fertilizers and other related uses.

“We want to make this as a common practice among our farmers,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture has been campaigning against the burning of rice straw due to its potential environmental hazards.

It encouraged farmers to apply Trichoderma to hasten the rice straw’s decomposition and eventually use them as organic fertilizer.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), in its National Inventory of Dioxins and Furans findings, earlier noted that the burning of rice straw appears more hazardous to the environment than the smoke emissions from motor vehicles.

It said rice straw burning generates air pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide.

It can also release airborne silica fibers or small particles of straw ash with possible carcinogenic health effects, DOST added.