TO boost the organic agriculture industry, experts and practitioners recently gathered at the 6th Regional Organic Agriculture Congress held at the DA Cagayan Valley Research Center (DA-CVRC) Annex at Baligatan, City of Ilagan in Isabela, showcasing their products, interacting with potential buyers and learning marketing opportunities.
This collaboration between the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) and the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) opened an avenue to exchange knowledge, share experiences and discuss strategies. Other objectives were to promote sustainability and contribute to economic growth.
In an audiovisual presentation, Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture, thanked the organic farming farmers, saying, “We still have a long way to go, but we have come a long way … I assure you that your efforts and commitment will soon be rewarded.”
DA Undersecretary for Special Concerns Zamzamin Ampatuan expressed hopes that the 6th Regional Organic Agriculture Congress will have a snowball effect and spur investment in the industry in the future.
Carolyn Tumamao, DA-Regional Field Office 2 (DA-RFO2) information officer, said the meeting will provide the farmers with “sufficient knowledge and skills to experiment with organic farming.”
Roberto Busania, DA-RFO2 officer in charge (OIC) regional technical director for operations and extension, urged the farmers to “keep up with the discovery of modern technologies so as not to fall behind in the global market. We must go on digital transformation now.”
Imelda Guillermo, Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center Region 2 director, highlighted NOAP’s scholarship grant that encourages “more young people to learn entrepreneurship through organic agriculture.”
Ten scholars from the Youth Scholarship Grant on Organic Farming will each receive one P150,000 in addition to the P5,000 monthly allowance after going through an intense examination and training in organic farming during the 21-month internship.
Meanwhile, citing updates of Republic Act 11511, or the “Act Amending the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010,” Dale Raseth Cabanes, NOAP development management officer, emphasized the responsibilities of local governments in the implementation and promotion of organic agriculture.
In his message read by Cabanes, Director Bernadeth San Juan, NOAP national program coordinator, told farmers not to turn their backs on organic farming but to continue to be advocates and practitioners.
DA-RFO2 OIC Executive Director Rose Mary Aquino said that despite the less than 1 percent of organic agriculture area in the region, their promotional activities are increasing “gradual appreciation of adopting organic agriculture farming including the application for certifications.”
Aquino also challenged the farmers who received composting facilities from the DA to form an association to strengthen their “capabilities as an organized group to engage in commercial production of organic fertilizers.”
Gina Nilo, the director of the Geomatics and Soil Information Technology Division of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management in Region 2, noted that the construction of irrigation and disaster-resistant facilities will be increased.
Representing Isabela 1st District Rep. Antonio “Tonypet” Albano, Board Member Emmanuel John Añes pointed out, “Organic way of living is not a method but a commitment for the future.”