THE Bureau of Soils and Water Management said on Monday it has turned over eight small-scale composting facilities (SSCFs) to farmers in Benguet, Mountain Province and Ifugao, through a program that seeks to promote organic agriculture in the country.
BSWM Executive Director Silvino Q. Tejada said the agency, as an active implementing agency of the National Organic Agriculture Program (Noap), provides support and services, like SSCFs, to improve the production and commercialization of organic fertilizers, thus, boosting organic agriculture in the country.
He said this will also help attain the Noap’s goal, which is to allocate 5 percent of the country’s agricultural land area to organic farming.
According to BSWM Assistant Director Sonia Salguero, the SSCFs will encourage farmers to produce their own organic fertilizers, ranging from 60 to 80 bags of composts every 45 days, to help them increase their production and income.
“Higher profit [for farmers] is expected, as these facilities can provide the needed vermicast or vermicompost of the farmer-beneficiaries within the targeted 100-hectare cluster farms and sell its remainders to other farm owners,” Salguero said in a statement.
The agency also awarded a composting facility for biodegradable waste to Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center. The beneficiaries will get hands-on training at the Regional Soils Laboratory of the BSWM.
Tejada, as the new national focal person of the Noap, emphasized the role of organic agriculture in improving soil quality and biodiversity, and addressing other related agricultural issues and threats, such as land
“Organic agriculture, as a tool to combat land degradation, increases the resilience of soils to water stress and nutrient loss,” Tejada said.
The director said organic farming is being promoted through continuous partnerships with farmer groups, state universities and colleges, and local government units.
Since 2009, the Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Noap, has already established 138 community-based composting facilities in Apayao, Abra, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Benguet and Baguio. These facilities are expected to reduce the dependence of farmers to chemical inputs.
“Now that our country is being recognized all over Asia in terms of organic farming, the BSWM will continue to promote the use of organic inputs through the establishment of different facilities to strengthen the capacity of LGUs, farmer cooperatives and associations, SUCs and even civil-society organizations to produce natural farming inputs,” Salguero said.
The Noap, under the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, is a six-year program that aims to promote, propagate, further develop and implement the practice of organic agriculture in the Philippines toward a competitive and sustainable organic agriculture industry.
According to data from the DA, crops harvested through organic agriculture in the Philippines reached 442,510 metric tons in 2015. There are also 107,911 hectares of agricultural lands in the country devoted to organic farming and 43,470 organic agriculture practitioners, to date.