Organic farmers in the Philippines welcome extension of PGS recognition for another 3 years

After more than two years of information campaigns, networking and lobbying, recognition of PGS and other types of organic certification will be given an extension of another three years. The Secretary of the Department of Agriculture recently issued DA Administrative Order No. 08, Series of 2013, entitled: Amendment to Rules 15.1 and 17.1 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act (RA) 10068 otherwise known as “The Organic Agriculture Act of 2010”. The issuance of the order is timely as PGS and other forms of certification will only be recognized up until April of this year.

The amendment stated that the period of voluntary compliance to Third Party Certification will be extended up to April 1, 2016. During this period, the Bureau of Agriculture, Fisheries Products Standards (BAFPS) shall ensure that all regulations and institutional modifications necessary for the implementation of the said provision shall be put in place. Likewise, the 1st and 2nd party, the community based and Participatory Guarantee Systems side by side with 3rd party certification shall be recognized during this period.

The Administrative Order was drafted in February 19 and approved in March 8 following the National PGS Conference in January 2013 organized by MASIPAG and funded by IFOAM where farmers, producers, non-government organizations, academe, consumers, representatives from local government units and agencies all over the country called for moratorium on the implementation of Section 17 of RA 10068. The conference resolution was presented to the National Organic Agriculture Board during their meeting last January 15 by representatives of farmers’ organizations, PGS Pilipinas and IFOAM President Andre Leu.

The administrative order is a welcome development for MASIPAG and PGS Pilipinas, as it gives more time and opportunity to lobby for the amendment of the RA 10068 and legitimize PGS as a form of organic certification. Likewise, this is also an opportunity for PGS practitioners to grow in number, create new markets and networks and to entice more smallholder farmers to shift to organic agriculture.

PGS Pilipinas is a network of PGS practitioners and advocates that aims to facilitate the development of organic agriculture among smallholder farmers; help build the domestic market for organic products and work for PGS recognition. PGS Pilipinas was formally launched during the National PGS Conference last January 2013.

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