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Govt aims to reduce organic certification cost

Sandari Batulao’s organic garden produces different vegetables. (BusinessMirror file photo)

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has launched the participatory guarantee system (PGS), a key feature of the amended Organic Agriculture Act that seeks to reduce the costs of organic certification, allowing small farmers to access such accreditation.

“Made possible by the support of our legislators, RA [Republic Act] 11511 opened opportunities for our small farmers and fisherfolk who want a sustainable and environment-friendly organic practice through PGS,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said during the recent launching of the PGS.

Under RA 11511 or the amended Organic Agriculture Act, PGS refers to a locally focused quality assurance system, which is developed and practiced by people actually engaged in organic agriculture.

The PGS, which is built on a foundation of trust, social network and knowledge exchange, serves as an alternative to third-party certification that certifies actual and active organic agriculture practitioners.

“The PGS will significantly reduce the cost of maintaining organic certification and actively involve our small farmers and fisherfolk with like-minded stakeholders and advocates of organic agriculture by maintaining the integrity of organic products available in the market,” Dar said.

Dar said the implementation of the PGS would also contribute to the DA’s farm consolidation program and will increase the availability of certified organic products of small and medium farmers in the domestic market. With this, large-scale organic producers can now shift to export markets, Dar added.

Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairperson Cynthia A. Villar said the PGS would help in making organic agriculture in the country a “competitive and sustainable industry.”

“I encourage all the stakeholders present today to continue your efforts and work hand in hand with us and the DA in advancing the national organic agriculture program and making organic agriculture in the Philippines as a competitive and sustainable industry,” Villar, the principal author of RA 11511, said.

Government agencies that are part of the National Organic Agriculture Board has pledged support to the PGS system including Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Science and Technology, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Health , Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agrarian Reform, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

Organic stakeholders including the Local Chief Executives League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities, Cities and Provinces of the Philippines, PGS Pilipinas, and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) also expressed support for the PGS.

“We need to ensure that small organic farmers and fisherfolk are not passive participants. We need to actively engage them in the implementation and give due recognition to their experience and expertise,” Dar said.

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