Organic farmer Jesus Antonio “Jet” Orbida is pushing for an easier way for growers to get certifications so they can sell their produce.
Orbida took his oath virtually as small farmer representative for the Visayas to the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB) for 2020-2023 today, December 1, before Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
He succeeded Jerry Dionson from Bago City.
Orbida, president of PeacePond Farmers Association that is based in Binalbagan town and winner of last year’s Regional Organic Agriculture Achievers’ Awards in the outstanding small farmer category, said that certification issues should be addressed as soon as possible.
He talked to some organic farmers and found out that they have switched back to conventional farming due to certification and labelling issues. Orbida said.
Small farmers cannot afford to pay around P130,000 for their certification, Orbida, who had been active in helping sustain the province’s organic agriculture development, said.
“We want to push for the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) as per the latest amendment on the Organic Agriculture Law. PGS will enable us, small farmers, to certify our produce as organically grown,” he said, adding that this is in line with Dar’s challenge for organic farming to be sustainable, particularly for the small farmers.
He also said that seed sourcing is a major issue when it comes to organic farming.
“We want to enhance seed banking practices to assure the future generation of farmers of quality seeds and avoid dependency on imported and genetically modified organism seeds,” he said.
On the sugar industry, Orbida said that Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino and Dionson have a pending resolution requesting the Sugar Regulatory Board to have a separate sugar classification for organic sugar in last year’s Organic Agriculture Congress.
“We will continue to advocate for this resolution to be considered for future amendments in the Organic Agriculture Law,” he said.*