Press Release
June 2, 2020

Villar's Organic Agriculture Bill Passed in the Senate
Senate Bill No. 1318 will introduce the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), a more affordable and accessible certification system for organic products

Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said the enactment into law of Senate Bill No. 1318 that amends Republic Act No. 10068 (The Organic Agriculture Act of 2010) will provide the much-needed impetus to support the growth of organic agriculture in the country. The said legislation, passed on Third Reading in the Senate on Monday (June 1), will put in place a more affordable and accessible system of certifying organic products, the Participatory Guarantee System or PGS.

"We have huge potential in organic agriculture but our local organic farmers are disadvantaged because they cannot have their produce or products labelled as organic due to the prohibitive cost of certification. PGS is the solution to that, it will make them more competitive," said Villar.

According to her, farmers have been seeking her help since they find third-party certification very expensive. It ranges from PhP42,000 to PhP150,000 per crop compared to PGS which cost only between PhP600 to PhP2,000.

PGS is also widely adhered to and accepted by international organic movements, such as the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM). It is also recognized by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) as a pro-farmer alternative to third party certification.

The new organic law will benefit the estimated 165,958 organic farming practitioners in the Philippines, majority of which are smallholder farmers. According to Villar, it is important for small farmers to be able to afford organic certification because they are the major force in the country's agriculture sector.

"PGS will help small organic farmers attain the organic certification they badly need to compete in local and global markets. It is a system developed and practiced by people who are actually engaged in organic agriculture. The practitioners themselves are involved in the process of certification" cited Villar.

The new organic law also increases private sector as well as indigenous people's participation in the National Organic Agricultural Board (NOAB). In addition to the existing members of NOAB from the government: three representatives will be chosen from among small farmers; one representative each from NGOs involved in organic agriculture, agricultural colleges or universities, the private sector involved in organic value chain, the national PGS (must be a small farmer) and a qualified representative from among indigenous farmers.

Villar cites the new law will provide the impetus to keep the momentum for organic agriculture which has really picked up in recent years. Demand for organic products is on the rise. "We should sustain and keep it going. Especially during this time and age when sustainable farming is a must since it incorporates environment protection. Organic farming is the best example of sustainable agriculture. How can we go organic if farmers cannot even afford to have their produce certified as organic?"

The shift to organic agriculture will also greatly benefit the environment, cited Villar, since its procedures are eco-friendly, including the use of organic fertilizers. The intensive and excessive use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides cause damages to crops, decrease crop production and result to loss of soil fertility.

"Organic farming is good in keeping the soil healthy. We must remember that 95 percent of our food comes from the soil. And soil degradation in the country has reached an alarming 38 percent already. The simplest way of reversing that is to put the nutrients back to the soil through composting and the use of organic fertilizer," added the senator.

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