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More markets for local organic products pushed

BACOLOD CITY (PNA) – An official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said the agency is looking for more markets for organically produced products as the organic agriculture industry is growing rapidly worldwide.

Agriculture Undersecretary for Administration and Finance Bernadette Romulo-Puyat assured the organic farmers of DA support as keynote speaker during the 1st Negros Island Region (NIR) Organic Agriculture Summit held at the SMX Convention Center here Monday.

Puyat, who heads the National Organic Agriculture Board, said that Secretary Emmanuel Piñol instructed them to continue creating more markets for local organic products, including the emerging heirloom rice, which Piñol will promote in Canada this coming November.

“If there are more markets, more farmers will produce organic products,” the DA official said.

Speaking before around 500 participants, Puyat said that organically grown products are showing an increase in the global trade, which is now around USD 100 billion, based on figures of the International Federation for Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM).

She added that the rapid growth trend can be attributed to the growing awareness and demand of consumers for safe food, and that organic farming or system is also viewed as viable alternative for conventional farming.

“It is predicted that the global market for organic products will continue to show significant growth with the increasing number of organic producers, practitioners, and adopters,” Puyat said.

The agency official added that with the rapid industry growth, the government has recognized the need to further support farmers, producers and stakeholders.

The DA has increased the industry funding from P500 million at present to P800 million in 2017 to help more organic producers in the country.

Puyat said the DA is conducting a nationwide consultation for the amendment of the Republic Act 10068, or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, which will include the implementation of participatory guarantee system (PGS), an alternative to the third party certification.

“A lot of our farmers have been complaining of the high cost of certification thus, with PGS we hope that more farmers will be covered since it will obviously lower the cost of certification,” Puyat said.