In this age of conventional farming gone are the days of depending on internal resources, recycling of organic matter, built-in biological control mechanism, and rainfall patterns. The modest but stable agricultural yields have been replaced for more production and competitive yields but with accompanying environmental and social consequences. One might think that this is the pinnacle of agriculture, but it isn’t. In fact, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed Republic Act No. 10068 which is an act that focuses on the development and promotion of organic agriculture in the Philippines.
In connection to this, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) particularly the Beneficiaries’ Development Coordinating Division headed by CARPO Lucia S. Vitug conducted several orientations on Organic Farming in different Agrarian Reform Communities. Organic and natural agriculture are often thought to be the same. But organic agriculture refers to items that are produced using organic means, while natural refers to items which are minimally synthesized. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution.
Recently, Thomas Diesta, Organic Agriculture Provincial Point Person, together with a group of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) from the province of Sorsogon went to Central Bicol State University of Agriculture in Pili, Camarines Sur to attend the Organic Agriculture Training. The training was funded by Department of Agriculture (DA), Agriculture Enterprise Development (AED) of DAR and Agriculture Training Institute (ATI). It also gave the ARBs an opportunity to see the Caanduyog Inc. Organic Training Center Research and Demonstration Farm in Camarines Sur which is devoted to organic farming.
In the training, the participants were taught about organic farming system. They learned how to produce organic fertilizer and even tried it themselves. The opportunities of organic farming and sustainable food production were also covered in the training.
For example, raising ducks on a rice farm will result in a weed-free and pest free farm. This in turn will result in an abundant harvest and a small business by selling the eggs or meat: “May kanin ka na, may ulam ka pa,”said Diesta. They were also taught how to obtain certification for a farm that is devoted in organic practices.
The training inspired the farmers to use the system themselves, “I am glad that the promotion of Organic Farming to the ARBs was assigned to me because we both learned and discovered the benefits of it,” said Diesta. He worked as consultant on organic agriculture program of LGU-Sorsogon and has studied in Natural Agriculture in India. As a promoter of organic farming, he is practicing the system himself in his backyard.
Carlito Aquino, chairperson of Cagmanaba Association of Neutral Domain for Union Yield on Organic Farmers Group, one of the resource speakers started his lectures by talking about the Green Revolution. This program was brought here in the Philippines by Rockefeller and Ford Foundations and together with the Marcos administration in 1960s started introducing inorganic fertilizers and pesticides in farming. “At first it had brought vast yields, but year after year the decrease in harvest is already felt by farmers because the continuous use of chemicals had damaged the fertility of the soil while the use of pesticides harmed pollinators,” he said.
According to Aquino, the Green Revolution is also one of the factors of global warming or greenhouse effect which the world is experiencing today. Because the chemicals introduced by the Green Revolution had mixed in the air and contributed to the destruction of ozone layer. This layer is supposed to be protecting the earth from all the energy from the sun that enters the atmosphere. However the huge amount of carbon dioxide doesn’t let the heat get out which also similar to what happens inside a greenhouse. Subsequently, global warming creates extreme change in the climate.
There are already numerous studies made that reveal how conventional agricultural methods cause ecological imbalance. According to the study of Miguel A. Altieri, a researcher in Division of Insect Biology, University of California in Berkeley, entitled “Modern Agriculture: Ecological Impacts and the Possibilities for Truly Sustainable Farming” chemical fertilizers can also become air pollutants. These chemicals have recently been implicated in the destruction of the ozone layer and in global warming. Their excessive use has also been linked to the acidification or the salinization of soil and to a higher incidence of insect pests and diseases through mediation of negative nutritional changes in crop plants.
Meanwhile, Dr. Alexis Carrel, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine said that diseases are created chiefly by destroying the harmony reigning among mineral substances present in infinitesimal amounts in air, water, and food, but mostly important in soil. Variations in the distribution of certain minerals in the environment are known to have adverse effects on health.
Farmers today spend a lot on fertilizers and pesticides. The high prices of these compel them to borrow money. And when harvest time comes most of the income goes to the payment of the loans.
Well, there is no doubt that if only every farmer devotes in organic farming problems on both finance and environment could lessen. In organic farming, there is no need to borrow money as capital because the things that will be needed can be found within the farm. For example, cow’s dung will serve as food for earthworms whose poop will serve as fertilizer on the soil. “A piggery has no stink in organic agriculture. What’s important is that you must have a deep concern on your environment,” Carlito Aquino said.
Indeed, organic farming follows the logic of living organism, a production system that sustained the health of the soil, ecosystem, and the people. Thus, the province of Sorsogon is an advocate of organic farming and it is also DAR’s dream to have a sustainable agriculture for ARBs while protecting their health and environment. To date, three (3) organic agriculture projects in Sorsogon were approved by the Department of Agriculture. With roughly P 1,122,000.00 in budget for sixty (60) hectares of rice areas in Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs) and Non-ARCs will be covered by the project in the municipalities of Sta. Magdalena, Donsol, and Casiguran.