Press Release
February 5, 2010


Sen. Loren Legarda urged Congress to enact a comprehensive Organic Agriculture Program for the sustainable development and promotion of organic agriculture in the country. Legarda aims to development technologies, adoption and promotion of organic cultivation and production methods in rural areas and support services such as training and extension, credit, facilities, equipment and technical assistance.

Legarda referred to the current state of the country's agricultural sector, from the damage of last year's typhoons to threats of shortage, and reminded the government that as the country's food supply heavily rely on agricultural produce, a healthier alternative to boost product quality has to be developed.

"We have been challenged by calamities already. Let's not wait for the adverse effects of climate change to drag down to our food supply chain and production flow. As early as now, we will have to devise new ways to grow our produce," warned Legarda.

In 2005 EO-481 promoted organic agriculture as a farming scheme especially in rural communities and ensure the integrity of organic products through approved organic certification procedures and organic production, handling and processing standards. EO-481 also created the National Organic Agriculture Program under the DA. Although with such EO in place, the sustainability of the program is vulnerable to changes in political conditions. "There is therefore a need to ensure the sustainability of the program thru legislation," Legarda urged.

According to the International Federation of Organic Movements, the total organic area in Asia is 4.1 million hectares managed by almost 130,000 farmers and the Asian organic food market is valued at about US$750 million. The Philippine Development Assistance Program estimated that the organic market in the Philippines is growing at a significant rate of 10-20% yearly.

In the Philippines, certified organic products include rice, vegetables, sugar, banana, and coconut. Export-bound organic products include muscovado sugar, banana chips, coconut cooking oil, virgin coconut oil, desiccated coconut, and dried banana leaves.

"While the potential of organic agriculture and organic markets in the country is strong and must be taken advantage of by the government, there are specific requirements to ensure organic products' integrity and suitable marketing strategies need to be explored and developed," Legarda stressed.

Organic farming system benefits small and marginal farmers because the processes involved require fewer external inputs. Although it may be labor intensive, this could support rural employment. The premium price of organic products generally has a margin of 20-30%, which means higher income for farmers.

"Through this proposed measure, the government adopts organic agriculture as a sustainable program that will redound to the economic benefits of farmers while ensuring our people's health and the sustainability of natural resources in our country," Legarda concluded.

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