4th Regional Organic Agriculture Congress (ROAC) of Department of Agriculture

Thank you very much to the Department of Agriculture—Regional Field Unit No. 8 and the Agricultural Training Institute-RTC 8 for inviting Senator Cynthia Villar here at the 4th Regional Organic Agriculture Congress (ROAC). Gusto sana niya kayong makasama lahat ngayong araw but she could not make it here personally because _______. But she has a prepared message for this event, please allow me to read it…

As most of you know, Senator Villar has always been a staunch supporter and advocate of organic agriculture, so talagang todo ang suporta nya sa mga ganitong events at advocacies in terms of legislative support as well as in terms of programs and projects.

We have a National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) here in our country, as provided under Republic Act No. 10068 or the “Organic Agriculture Act of 2010”, which of course many of you are aware of and have been discussed by your own agriculture-related groups and organizations.

We really need to implement and promote NOAP. The organizations behind it are already implementing the NOAP document or plan. It basically involves the promotion and commercialization of organic farming practices, cultivation of production methods, capacity-building of farmers, consumer education, assistance to local government units (LGUs), organizations, NGOs and other stakeholders, whether individuals or groups.

As an agricultural country, the Philippines really has a lot of competitive advantage when it comes to organic agriculture. The NOAP is one of those since it is the blueprint of the development and promotion of organic agriculture in the Philippines. We just have to ensure the strict implementation and keep on assessing and re-calibrating the components of the program according to the needs of the time. I hope we will be more successful in organic agriculture.

Hindi lang ang mga farmers at iba pang mga stakeholders of the agriculture sector ang dapat mag-participate. Lahat tayo ay dapat makiisa dahil lahat tayo ay apektado at makikinabang sa mga benepisyo ng organic agriculture.

The momentum for organic agriculture has really picked up in recent years. We should sustain and keep it going. Especially during this time and age when sustainable farming is also gaining ground, so to speak. More and more people are realizing that, now more than ever, we have to prioritize environment protection through sustainable agriculture.

Our very own survival and food security demand it. For farming and food production to be more sustainable and to be able to meet growing food demand, organic is the way to go.

And for organic agriculture to really make a major impact and become a part of people’s way of life, we need to incorporate modern approaches and strategies that are based on scientific research and development; can provide the needs of a wide market; can adapt and respond to various issues and changes in the sector, environment among others; and most of all, can transform our lives, particularly of farmers, their families and communities.

As cited earlier, bilang chairperson ng Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, Senator Villar actively promotes organic agriculture and also provide legislative support where it is needed. Kahit sa ibang agri-related bills that have been passed and currently being pursued by her committee, isinisingit nya rin ang organic agriculture.

Katulad na lang sa “Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016” o Republic Act (RA) 10816.  There is a provision under the law that seeks “to promote environment-friendly, efficient and sustainable farm practices”. Our very own survival and security demand it. For farming and food production to be more sustainable and to be able to meet growing food demand, there should be lower use of agricultural inputs such as water and chemicals. Again, it boils down to organic agriculture.

At dahil isinusulong din ng batas ang pagtatayo ng isang farm tourism site o camp at farm school sa bawat bawat munisipalidad o syudad, lalo pang maipo-promote ang organic agriculture at maituturo rin ang mga proseso o pamamaraan sa organic farming. Ang unang-unang magiging benificiaries niyan ay ang mga maliliit na mga magsasaka.

We must remember that small farmers will feed the world in the future. Opo, ang mga maliliit na mga magsasaka ang maaasahan natin in the future para siguruhin na hindi tayo magugutom. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 70 percent of food we consume globally comes from small farmers. About 1.5 billion of people globally are estimated to be involved in family farming in over 500 million small farms worldwide. Kaya kailangan natin tulungan at suportahan ang mga farming families and communities katulad ng marami sa inyo dito sa Visayas, particularly Southern Leyte. Kayo ang susi sa pag-ensure ng food-secure future sa buong mundo.

Kailangan rin natin siguruhin ang environmental sustainability. At malaki ang papel na ginagampanan ng organic agriculture sa pagsiguro niyan. Halimbawa, ang organikong pagsasaka ay napakalaki ng naitutulong in keeping the soil healthy. We must remember that 95 percent of our food comes from the soil. At ang simpleng paraan ay ibalik natin ang nutrients sa lupa, sa pamamagitan ng composting at paggamit ng organic fertilizer.  Dapat matuto ang mga tao na mag-compost ng mga kitchen at garden wastes.

Ang paggamit ng organic fertilizer, instead of chemical-based fertilizers, ay isa sa pinakamadaling paraan at basic na application ng organic farming. Because I practice what I preach, ako mismo ay may organic fertilizer-making project na sinimulan ni Senator Villar sa kanyang home city sa Las Pinas. Dalawang procedures ang ginagamit: rotary composting at vermicomposting.

Senator Villar facilitated the establishment of composting centers sa mga barangay, at ang mga kitchen at garden wastes na nakokolekta ay ginagamit sa paggawa ng organic fertilizer. May 70 composters na ang ipinamahagi nya at ginagamit ngayon ng may 35,000 households. Ang mga napo-produce namin na mga organic fertilizers ay ipinamimigay ng libre sa mga magsasaka at mga involved sa urban farming o vegetable gardening.

Kasama rin kami sa pag turn-over ng Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) ng mga Small Scale Composting Facilities (SSCFs) sa mga farmer-beneficiaries sa buong bansa para maka-produce sila ng sarili nilang organic fertilizer. Kailangan natin patuloy na hikayatin ang mga magsasaka na gumawa ng  sarili nilang organic fertilizers dahil sa mataas na presyo ng inorganic pesticides at fertilizers at isang dahilan sa pagliit ng kanilang kita.

The intensive and excessive use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides cause damages to crops,    decrease crop production and result to loss of soil fertility. In fact, ang soil degradation sa ating bansa ay umabot na sa 38 per cent. Napakalaking problema para sa ating lahat, kung tuluyan ng masira ang ating mga lupa

Dapat rin samantalahin natin ang momentum dahil ang mga organic produce katulad ng mga gulay ay nagiging mas popular na dahil marami sa atin ay mas health-conscious na. Kaya mas dumarami na ang mga organic farms being established nationwide.

Ang organic farming ay makakatulong sa mga pamilya na maging self-sufficient sa kanilang pagkain at makakatulong rin sa mga barangay na magkaroon ng extra source of income or funds. Turuan natin ang mga residente ng ating mga komunidad ng organic way of farming.

As cited earlier, we have a competitive advantage in organic agriculture. We just need to enhance them. Higit sa lahat, we are an agricultural country, so we should be experts in matters pertaining to agriculture, especially organic farming. Importante ang pagtutulungan.  The government cannot do it alone. Ang mga farmers ang nasa forefront ng organic farming. For organic agriculture to really take off, we need to work together. The momentum is there already, let us keep it going. Maraming salamat at mabuhay ang organic agriculture!