Day 286/365: Organic Farming in the Philippines

October 14, 2011

Sourcing of “Certified” Organic Produce is the key major factor Sugarleaf is often having a challenge. There are those so-called Organic by Neglect, and Farm who’s doing the Organic Method based on Best Practice and joining groups with a banner of Organic Producers as a banner. For an individual to validate if its a “real” organic or not, then we only need to ask, if the farm is certified or not.

Why need to be certified? First, all other first world country controls the standardization and food safety of their agriculture. US has USDA Organic Seal of Approval, Canada – Canada Organic, Japan- Japanese Agricultural Standards, France – Agriculture Biologique and many others. Here in the Philippines, we have OCCP, Organic Certification Center of the Philippines. The latter however is a private-organization which is a result of the Republic Act No 10068 (An Act providing for the development and promotion of Organic Agriculture in the Philippines and for other purposes)

The act is known as Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, which goal is to promote, propagate, develop further and implement the practice of organic agriculture in the Philippines that will cumulatively condition and enrich the fertility of the soil, increase farm productivity, reduce pollution and destruction of the environment, prevent the depletion of natural resources, further protect the health of farmers, consumers, and the general public, and save on imported farm inputs.

Why RA 10068 focus on Organics?

(a) Organic refers to the particular farming and processing system, described in the standards and not in the classical chemical sense. The term “organic” is synonymous in other languages to “biological” or “ecological”. It is also a labeling term that denotes products considered organic based on the Philippine National Standards for organic agriculture.

(b) Organic agriculture includes all agricultural systems that promote the ecologically sound, socially acceptable, economically viable and technically feasible production of food and fibers. Organic agricultural dramatically reduces external inputs by refraining from the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and pharmaceuticals. It also covers areas such as, but not limited to, soil fertility management, varietal breeding and selection under chemical and pesticide-free conditions, the use of biotechnology and other cultural practices that are consistent with the principles and policies of this Act, and enhance productivity without destroying the soil and harming farmers, consumers and the environment as defined by the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movement (IFOAM): Provided, That the biotechnology herein to shall not include genetically modified organisms of GMOs.

(c) Organic production system is a system designed to:

(1) enhance biological diversity within the whole system;

(2) increase soil biological activity;

(3) maintain long-term soil fertility;

(4) recycle wastes of plant and animal origin in order to return nutrients to the land, thus minimizing the use of nonrenewable resources;

(5) rely on renewable resources in locally organized agricultural system;

(6) promote the healthy use of soil, water and air as well as minimize all forms of pollution thereto that may result from agricultural practices;

(7) develop and promote the use of biotechnology in agriculture;

(8) handle agricultural products with emphasis on careful processing methods in order to maintain the organic integrity and vital qualities of the product at all stages; and

(9) become established on any existing farm through a period of convention, the appropriate length of which is determined by site-specific factors such as the history of the land, and type of crops and livestock to be produced.

The Act is very comprehensive for the organic producer and consumer to fully understand the purpose of building an Organic agriculture in the Philippines. It also list the certification procedures and rules on establishment selling Organic Produce.

For Consumer Protections (Penal Provisions)

(c) mislabels or claims that the product is organic when it is not in accordance with the existing standards for Philippine organic agriculture or this Act shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment of not less than one (1) month nor more than six (6) months, or a fine of not more than Fifty thousand pesos (P50, 000.00), or both, at the discretion of the court. If the offender is a corporation or a juridical entity, the official who ordered or allowed the commission of the offense shall be punished with the same penalty. If the offender is in the government service, he shall in addition, be dismissed from the office

For the Benefits of Producing and Selling Organics:

(a) Exemption from the payment of duties on the importation of agricultural equipment, machinery and implements as provided under Republic Act No. 9281, which amends Republic Act No. 8435 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA);

(b) Identification by LGUs of local taxes that may be offered as incentives to organic input production and utilization;

(c) Provision of preferential rates and special window to organic input producers and users by the LBP;

(d) Subsidies for certification fees and other support services to facilitate organic certification;

(e) Zero-rated value-added tax (VAT) on transactions involving the sale/purchase of bio-organic products, whether organic inputs or organic produce; and

(f) Income tax holiday and exemption for seven (7) years, starting from the date of registration of organic food and organic input producers on all income taxes levied by the National Government.

And this act is a Law! so by now we all should be very careful on validating and we have to be sure that what we are buying is genuinely Organic.

Below is the picture of Sugarleaf visits in Platinum Farms in Tanay Rizal (OCCP Certified)

Organic Farming

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