Senate ratifies committee report on organic farming

The Senate on Tuesday ratified the committee report on the bill that would pave the way for cheaper certification for organic produce and more accessible to Filipino farmers.

The ratification comes after the bicameral conference committee has reconciled the disagreeing provisions on Senate Bill 1318 and House Bill 6878, that seek to amend Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010.

“This bill, once enacted into law, will provide for a more affordable system of organic certification, which will allow small farmers to benefit from producing organic products,” Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform, said.

The measure would create a participatory guarantee system (PGS), a locally focused quality assurance system which is developed and practiced by people actually engaged in organic agriculture.

Villar noted that under the existing law aspiring organic farmers must secure certification from a third-party certifier to be able to label and market their produce as organic in the market.

However, the third-party certification has been burdensome to some farmers as the cost could go up to more than P100,000 per crop per year, Villar said.

“The exorbitant cost prevents small farmers from practicing organic farming and also makes organic products expensive for many Filipinos,” she added.

In contrast, PGS certification would only cost farmers P600 to P2,000 to secure organic certification. The PGS system is now widely adhered to and accepted by international organic movements like the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement, Villar said.

“Aside from environmental protection, increased farmer profitability is also a great motivation to promote and develop the organic industry. It promotes the use of natural and farm-based resources and inputs like organic fertilizer, which would yield to less input cost on the part of the farmers,” Villar said.

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