Local News: Agriculture USec Keynotes Organic Farmers’ General Assembly Today
Undersecretary for Special Concerns Bernadette Romulo-Puyat of the Department of Agriculture (DA) will keynote the Organic na Negros! Organic Producers and Retailers Association (ONOPRA) general assembly that starts at 8 a.m. today, Friday at the Governor’s Hall of the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City.
HERE TODAY is Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who strongly supports organic farming as a priority.*
Puyat, concurrent alternate chair to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in the National Organic Agriculture Board, will be joined by Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Maranon, Jr., Iloilo City-based DA regional director Larry Nacionales, provincial agriculturist Igmedio Tabianan and NISARD head Edgardo "Boyet" Uychiat.
Puyat had been in the forefront of organic agriculture promotions, and earlier lauded Negros Occidental as the "benchmarker and trailblazer" of organic farming in the country.
Provincial director Rebecca Rascon of the Department of Trade and Industry will give updates regarding the organic fertilizer industry, which is part of DTI’s national priority cluster.
Armi Benedicto, focal person of the provincial organic agriculture, and Dr. Hector Peñaranda, her counterpart in the regional DA office, will render reports on their respective agencies’ campaign to promote organic farming, ONOPRA president Ramon Uy, Jr., said.
A business meeting will be held in the afternoon, during which the ONOPRA Board will present to members the association’s accomplishments.
Election of the new ONOPRA board members will follow, Uy added.
Membership in ONOPRA had expanded in the last seven years since the maiden edition of the Negros Occidental Organic Festival organized by the provincial government in 2006.
Individual advocates, small farmers, people’s organizations, NGOs, private businesses, food processors and restaurateurs, and cooperatives became active members, many of whom have gone into commercial operations because of the growing demand for organic food products because of their health benefits, among others, Uy noted.
He pointed out that the ONOPRA general assembly comes on the heels of discussions on the perceived alarming situation in the sugar industry when the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) comes full circle by 2015.
Key industry players believe that two years from today, the Philippine market, including Negros Occidental, will be flooded by cheap sugar from Thailand and other countries as tariffs imposed on commodities are lifted.
ONOPRA, Uy said, can be one of the venues for farmers, big or small, to express their concerns and possibly craft strategies to cushion the impact of the zero-tariff implementation by 2015 on the agriculture sector.
One positive development in the organic farming movement globally though is the fact that it is expected to double to US$104.5 billion, revenue-wise, by 2015 from just US$57.2 billion three years ago, the ONOPRA president said.
Responding to the call to go organic may be one of the immediate to long term solutions to counter the consequences of the tariff elimination on agriculture products come 2015, he added.*