DA pushes for certification of 10 more organic farms

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 02 December) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 is pushing for the certification of 10 more organic farms in the region next year.

Dr. Lorna Vilbar, focal person of DA-12’s organic agriculture program, said Friday they are currently assisting the processing of the third party certification for the selected organic farms through its subsidy program.

She said the 10 farms, which earlier underwent a series of pre-assessment activities, have qualified for the agency’s certification subsidy.

Vilbar said they conducted the pre-assessment in coordination with the Don Bosco Multi-Purpose Cooperative, which is one of the seven certified organic farms in the region.

She said it focused on the compliance of the farms to the Philippine National Standards Specification for Organic Agriculture.

“Based on our evaluation, the 10 farms are ready for third party certification,” she said in a press conference.

She was referring to organic certification from any of the two existing DA-accredited certification in the country.

These are the Organic Certification Council of the Philippines in Quezon City and the Negros Island Organic Certification Services based in Bacolod City.

Under the DA’s organic certification subsidy program, prospective farms could avail of grants of as much as P150,000 to cover for its processing costs.

The fees for organic certification, which are renewed annually, depend on the type of crop and hectarage or area covered by the farm.

Clustered farms or groups may also seek certification and the fees could reach as much as P300,000 as in the case of Don Bosco.

Vilbar said they are continually evaluating other organic farms in the region for possible inclusion into the certification subsidy program.

“We’re targeting to certify more organic farms in the next three years,” she said.

Of the seven certified organic farms in Region 12, three have already been exporting their products to various markets abroad.

These are organic banana producer Tupi-Balangon Growers Association based in Tupi, South Cotabato; organic premium rice producer Don Bosco of M’lang, North Cotabato; and, organic coco sugar processor TreeLife of Carmen, North Cotabato. (MindaNews)