Alcala to organic farmers: Reimburse your certification
MANILA, Philippines – With more and more production land and farming practitioners going organic, the Department of Agriculture (DA) may reach its production area conversion target set by 2016.
After all, the country has seen a 300% increase in organic production areas for the past 3 years – from 4,415 hectares in 2011 to 17,724 hectares this year.
At the same time, the number of organic farming practitioners in the country has risen by 185%, which Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala noted as a “positive indication."
But this number is still low, considering that organic agriculture has been promoted for over a decade now.
“This may be attributed to wrong perception of farmers towards organic farming or they may be burdened by the steep cost of a third-party certification," Alcala said.
The Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 defines third-party certification as the confirmation of an independent organization – accredited by government – that the organic farming conditions mandated by law are being met by the practitioner.
This certification will allow practitioners to participate in international trade, especially in top global markets such as Germany and France, where demand for organic food and clothing continues to rise.
DA accepts applications from practitioners to reimburse their third-party certification expenses. Alcala said 14 farmers have already been reimbursed by the department.
So far, many of the practitioners have complied only with second-party certification, or traders' confirmation of the company's produce.
"We are encouraging third-party certification because after the extended moratorium on the labeling of organic products, only third party-certified products may be allowed to be labeled as organic," Alcala added.
The country has 9.671 million hectares of agricultural land area, data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics showed. Of this, at least 5% must be converted to organic farming systems, the law mandates.
"We are determined to speed up the spread of organic farming in the country to meet the targeted 5% conversion by 2016," he said. - Rappler.com