Small farmers to benefit from Organic Agriculture Act amendments

The Senate on Tuesday ratified the committee report on the bill amending Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, which will make certification for organic produce cheaper and more accessible.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and principal sponsor of the bill, informed her colleagues in the Senate that the bicameral conference committee has reconciled the disagreeing provisions on Senate Bill 1318 and House Bill 6878.

“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,” Villar said.

The measure creates a Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), a locally-focused quality assurance system which is developed and practiced by people actually engaged in organic agriculture. It is used to certify producers and farmers as actual and active practitioners of organic agriculture, and is built on a foundation of trust, social network and knowledge exchange.

The senator noted that RA 10068 requires the certification of organic farms of small farmers by a third-party certifier to facilitate labeling and marketing of products to markets. But the cost of third party certification costs up to more than P100,000 per crop, per year, “creates a very big barrier for small farmers to overcome.”

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

PGS certification will only cost farmers P600 to P2000, and is now widely adhered to and accepted by international organic movements, such as the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement.

“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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