PGS Conference successfully conducted
Davao City – MASIPAG recently held its third conference on Participatory Guarantee System titled “Participatory Guarantee Systems: Building a Future for Organic Farmers and Consumers in the Philippines” which aimed to further expand the practice and implementation of PGS in the country. The conference, attended by more than 140 representatives from farmers’ groups, local government units (LGUs) and non-government organizations (NGOs), also served to launch the Davao City PGS, a coalition supporting the practice and implementation of participatory guarantee system (PGS).
The PGS is an alternative product certification system more beneficial and appropriate to local and smallholder organic production. MASIPAG has been lobbying for the recognition of PGS, since the current law, the Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act only recognizes the third-party certification system in which the certifying bodies require a hefty fee that smallholder farmers and producers can barely afford. However, a two-year leeway has been granted for those that are using first- and second-party certification such as the PGS.
Representatives from LGUs who have successfully installed and are actively implementing PGS shared their experience among the participants, which include 32 LGUs officials including municipal mayors, municipal and provincial agricultural officers and organic agriculture focal persons. The inputs served to inspire these LGUs to likewise take up PGS in their localities to further support their organic farmers.
“The LGUs play an important role in seeking for farmer-friendly solutions and approaches so we can ensure the development of our organic agriculture,” said Mayor Leovegildo Ruzol of General Nakar, in Quezon province. Mayor Ruzol, who is also the Executive Vice-President of the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities (LOAM), stated that the LOAM supports the call of MASIPAG to recognize PGS.
“There is a need to push for organic agriculture because it is good for the health of the people,” said Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr.of Maribojoc, Bohol. “And if there are effective people who could certify organic products, they are the growers and practitioners themselves.”
A workshop was also held during the conference to further discuss various strategies to mainstream PGS among farmers’ groups, LGUs, NGOs and academe. Participants later on signed a unity statement which declares their support in calling the government to recognize PGS and a genuinely farmer-led organic agriculture. The conference statement will then be submitted to the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB) and the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Organic Food Fair
The second day of the PGS Conference took place in the SM Ecoland Grounds, where various organic products were displayed and sold. Organic products from Davao City farmers and other neighboring municipalities were marketed, including organic colored rice, fresh fruits and vegetables, and processed organic herbal teas and medicines. These products are all certified organic through PGS.
The Fair took off with a Green Ride, a one-hour fun ride around Davao City participated by youths and professionals advocating healthy lifestyle. Cultural groups welcomed visitors with a lively traditional music which formally opened the program. The Davao City PGS was likewise launched during the program.
One of the highlights of the organic food and product fair was the organic salad challenge called “Farm to Fork.” Culinary and hotel restaurant management students from four universities in Davao City participated in creating special dishes from fresh organic products that they bought from the fair. Students from the Assumption School of Davao bagged the first place with their creamy durian salad. Women-farmers likewise joined the contest with their sumptuous fresh green salads with various herbs and vegetables.
The PGS Conference was co-organized by PGS Pilipinas (an alliance of PGS practitioners and advocates), Davao City PGS, Ateneo de Davao University School of Business and Governance and the Ateneo de Davao University Young Entrepreneurs Society.#