|Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. checks out the organic products during the opening of the 9th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival in November 2014 at the North Capitol Road, Bacolod City.|
Ramon Uy Jr., president of the Organic na Negros Organic Producers and Retailers Association (ONOPRA), said that there are 10,000 organic areas in the province, adding that farmers have an annual income of P100,000.
In Negros Occidental alone, the annual gross sales of organic farming was pegged at P1 billion.
Uy claimed that organic farming have improve the lives and income of the farmers here.
For Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., the "organic movement have been growing by leaps and bounds."
He vowed that he would continue supporting this movement since it will improve the lives of the poor.
He challenged the agrarian reform beneficiaries not to sell their lands, "plant high-value crops because the government will support you."
"We're an agricultural country. We have a rice soil and good weather," the governor said, adding that the provincial government is trying its best to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.
This was furhter affirmed by the Department of Agriculture which said that organic farming is successful primarily in Western Visayas where Negros Occidental belongs.
Leo Cañeda, coordinator of DA’s National Organic Agriculture Board, said that the organic farming program of the agency had been running in the region for more than four years since the Organic Agriculture Act was passed in 2010, as he stressed that there’s no reason for the program to fail in its birthplace.
Cañeda said that the law targets to transform five percent of the country’s agricultural lands into organic agriculture.
According to DA, about 32,000 hectares of the 633,000 agricultural land area in the region were already converted into organic agriculture.
The province of Negros Occidental, which is known for sugar, aimed to be the organic farming capital of the country.
Meanwhile, small scale farmers who are into rice, corn, high-value crops and livestock production can avail of the crop insurance program.
The farmers, however, should conform to the Philippine National Standard on Organic Farming so they will be certified as organic practitioners for their products to have access in domestic and foreign markets.
Recently, the World Bank had allocated P191 million for Negros Occidental after it was chosen as priority province of the national government’s Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP).
Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. stressed that it is a big boost to the province’s agricultural sector and advocacy on organic farming.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for us to feed the whole country. Let the PRDP be a model for all provinces because this will help the underprivileged solve poverty and generate more employment for Negros Occidental,” he said.
The PRDP is a platform that calls for an inclusive, value chain-oriented and climate-oriented agriculture and fisheries sectors. Using the $500 million fund from the World Bank through a 15-year old loan agreement, the national government extended grants for agricultural enhancement programs of qualified local government units.
Negros Occidental was the only local government unit in the Visayas cluster that was chosen as pilot area with muscovado as a priority commodity for development.
Marañon emphasized that rice self-sufficiency remains as his top priority, adding that about 50,000 hectares of rice land are currently irrigated and is expected to expand to 90,000 in the next five years or so.
“The resources of this province are beyond imagination. The agriculture sector is like your three-in-one coffee. It is the key to solving poverty and unemployment,” the governor pointed out, as he cited that the Philippines is the “darling” of agricultural advancement in Asia, and was way ahead of Japan, growth-wise in the 50s and 60s.