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October-December 2017 Issue (Vol. 19 No. 4)

by Patrick Raymund A. Lesaca

The Food and Agriculture Organization defines organic agriculture as a holistic production management system that promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health. It emphasizes the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs by using, where possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfill any specific function within the system.

Signed into law in 2010, the Republic Act 10068, known as the Organic Agriculture (OA) Act, is a state policy that promotes, propagates, further develops, and implements the practice of organic farming in the country addressing farm productivity, depletion of natural resources, and health benefits of both farmers and consumers.

Section 5 of the Act envisions the institutionalization of a comprehensive OA Program with research and development (R&D) as one of its components to improve areas of production, technology support, development of organic market industry and delivery of support services, implementation of capability programs, and farmers’ participation in various R&D activities.

The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) is tasked under Section 20 of RA 10068 to lead and coordinate among executive agencies including strategic agricultural-based state universities and colleges (SUCs) and private organizations to develop, enhance and support, and consolidate activities related technologies for the formulation and implementation of a unified and integrated organic agriculture RDE plans and programs from the national to the field level. Part of the task is for BAR to organize an OA Research and Development and Extension (RDE) network and call for the establishment of a national, regional and provincial organic RDE centers that can be integrated as a major component of the existing RDE centers of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other stakeholders.

Several activities has already been established including the planning, coordination, implementation, and monitoring of OA research programs; establishment and maintenance of database and information system on OA R&D programs; and creation of an interagency committee to oversee and monitor national RDE programs.

In 2011, in consultation with various stakeholders, BAR crafted the “Organic Agriculture Research Development and Extension (OA RDE) Agenda 2012-2016” that became the basis for implementing strategies that filled in the identified gaps in RDE activities. It also allowed all projects to be aligned with the program directives of the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) of DA. Subsequently, a refined version of the agenda, “OA RDE Agenda 2017-2022” was drafted putting more emphasis on the validation of available technologies, and tools and practices on organic agriculture. The agenda also serves as a reference in planning and implementing RDE programs and projects for the medium-term.

Since its implementation, BAR OA Program has supported the development of technologies from applied researches including organic seed production, pest and disease management, crop production, and soil management; and postproduction related technologies for commercialization.

Through the OA Program, technologies have been developed from applied researches, which focused on organic seed production, pest and disease management, crop production, and soil management; and the postproduction related technologies for commercialization. These OA projects are being implemented by DA and its regional field offices, bureaus and attached agencies, various SUCs, and selected non-government organizations.

To date, there are 85 completed projects and 82 on-going projects on OA. The funded researches include studies on organic seed production, organic soil amendments, pest and disease management; livestock and poultry; policy and economic analysis and recommendations that serve as a guide for the enhancement of the OA program. In addition, several production and postproduction related technologies were commercialized, which focus on the development of enterprises and improvement of agriculture and fisheries related industries for OA. These include the development and promotion of products from organically-produced crops such as coffee, Nipa palm sugar, sweet sorghum, Arius fruit; native cattle, native pig, native chicken; and promotion of different cropping intervention and technologies. BAR also funds research facilities, which are strategically situated nationwide to cater to organic farmers and increase awareness on the importance of organic farming. ###

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