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

by Daryl Lou A. Battad

The increasing demand for organic produce in the market requires a significant demand for organic seed producers and farmers. The transition from conventional to organic farming has substantially hastened due to the equally growing health conscious consumers.

It was on this ground that Dr. Herminigilda A. Gabertan and her team at the Bureau of Plant Industry-Los Baños National Crop Research and Development Center (BPI-LBNCRDC) came up with an initiative to contribute to the sustainable supply of organic plant materials through the project, “Development of Organic Seed Production System for Lowland Vegetables and Field Legumes at BPI-LBNCRDC and Strengthening Partnership in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and Bicol Regions.”

With the Philippine Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 otherwise known as Republic Act 10068 coming in full circle, the project team saw that in order to realize the full potential of organic agriculture, farmers would first and foremost need to have access to readily available planting materials. Consequently, disaggregated organic seed production sector, limited research studies on organic seed production, and lack of guidelines on organic seed registration are among the identified issues on the Organic Agriculture Program.

BPI, with its mandate and as the lead implementer of this project, targets to establish a national organic seed production program by setting up organic seed production areas at BPI, broadening science-based knowledge on organic seed production technologies, and strengthening the partnership of the Department of Agriculture with identified organic coordinators and stakeholders.

The project, funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), specifically aimed to evaluate seed yield, increase seed production, secure organic seed certification, and establish partnership among organic agriculture stakeholders.

Establishment of seed production areas

The project devoted a 1.5-hectare of land for organic seed production which was divided into eight farm units for open field production with four greenhouses and two screenhouses. Citronella, lemon grass, marigold, oregano, and celosia served as insect repellents. The area also made use of vermicompost to fertilize the soil.

Selected National Seed Industry Council (NSIC) approved varieties and promising lines of pole sitao, cowpea, mungbean, and tomato were evaluated based on their ability to thrive under organic conditions.

Crop maintenance includes the use of plastic mulch, vermicomposting, and organic nutrient supplements. Coconutbased soap dissolved in water along with blended citronella leaves was also used as spray to minimize infestation of pests such as aphids and leafminers.

For organic nutrient supplement, madre de cacao or kakawate leaves were used to produce Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ); and ginger for Oriental Herbal Nutrient (OHN). These fermented plant juices were mixed with water and sprayed on crops at least twice a week from germination to fruiting stage to supply crops with essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) to stimulate better plant growth.

In a single year alone during implementation, the project produced 469.27 kilograms of seeds or 3.527 tons per hectare from all crops. In addition, positive return on investment (ROI) was obtained by the highest yielder varieties of cowpea (BPI-Cp3), pole sitao (PSB Ps2), mungbean (NSIC Mg14), and tomato (BPI-Tm9). These results manifest the potential of organic seeds in the market.

On 24 June 2013, a total of 1.28 hectare and 645 kilograms of organic seeds were granted an organic certification by the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP). It then carried the OCCP seal, “Organic-inTransition.”

Building partnerships

Following the successful results, the project established partnership with the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual, and Cultural Advancement (OISCA) in the province of Quezon; the Madrigal Foundation, Inc., and the Christ Life Community (CLC) in Camarines Sur. It also partnered with the Department of Agriculture-Palawan Research and Experiment Station (DA-PRES).

OISCA, an international organization founded in 1963, advocates environmentally sustainable development through a holistic approach emphasizing the interconnectedness of agriculture, ecological integrity, and human spirit. In Quezon province, OISCA has satellites in Sariaya, Tayabas, and Lucban. Among the three branches, the project was able to establish partnership with OISCA Lucban with 22 organic adopters and an area of 3,000 square meters.

On the other hand, the Madrigal Foundation, a nongovernment organization (NGO) located in San Fernando, Camarines Sur, is an advocate of organic farming in the Bicol region. The organization’s organic farm has 5.8 hectares, which is utilized for livestock, fishpond, and vegetable production. For this project, a total land area of 2,000 square meters was allotted for seed production. With favorable results from the project, the organization expanded its organic production area to two hectares.

Also an organic advocate NGO situated in San Fernando, Camarines Sur, CLC provides programs and opportunities for technological complementation in environmental education development, community empowerment, and human resources development to help close the technology gap between the local community and the government. The organization provided a total area of 2,000 square meters for this project, which later on expanded to four hectares because of the success in production and market.

Lastly, the DA-PRES, a government agency in Palawan which is responsible for the promotion of growth and development of the local agricultural sector in Palawan, committed an area of 5,000 square meters for organic seed production project.

To massively promote these technologies generated, harvest festivals and several trainings were conducted in all production sites, inviting farmers, researchers, and other stakeholders interested in organic agriculture.

According to project leader, Dr. Gabertan, these accomplishments have furthered motivated the team to continue its efforts in disseminating these technologies while building more partnerships in different areas in the Philippines. With the market expanding for organic produce, this initiative shall find its way to more farmers and consumers alike. ###

Contact details: Dr. Herminigilda Gabertan Center Chief, BPI-LBNCRDC Los Baños, Laguna phone: (049) 536-0104 or 536-7931 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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