Organic food growers seek easier way of certification

DAVAO CITY—Groups of organic farmers and environment advocates are asking the government to make it easier for organic food growers to get certification that is needed to sell their products bearing the organic (grown without chemicals) label.

Dr. Chito Medina, national coordinator of farmers and scientists’ group Masipag, said most farmers in the country stay away from organic food growing because they can’t afford the P50,000 fee for certification of their produce as organic.

Medina said one solution would be to make the certification system more affordable.

In this city, the more affordable certification process, called Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), has been launched to coincide with the opening of the Kadayawan organic food and product fair.

The cost of PGS certification can be as low as P700 to P1,000 for a 2-hectare farm in Quezon province to a high of P3,000 for a farm area of over 2 ha.

“That’s very cheap compared to third-party certification, which costs P50,000 a year,” Medina said during the National Conference on Organic Agriculture held here on Tuesday.

“This way, we can make it more affordable, more accessible to small farmers, who make up most of the food producers in the country,” he said.

The Davao City PGS team is composed of representatives from Masipag, Moral Economic Technological, Socio-Cultural Aspirations (Metsa) Foundation, the environment group Interface for Development Intervention, Go Organic Davao City, Ateneo de Davao University and the City Agriculturist Office, among others.

The certification system would ensure consumers that products classified as organic in the market are really organic.

But the Organic Agriculture Act recognizes only organic produce that are certified through the more expensive third-party system.

“In effect, the law will exclude those who are practicing first, or second-party certifications, among them the PGS,” Medina said.

“Farmers who cannot enter this scheme, mainly small farmers, will not be entitled to grants, incentives and support,” he said.

Anita Morales, Metsa president, said many farmers were now producing organic food, but could not label their produce as such because of the lack of certification. Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao

 

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer