Thursday, November 26, 2015

Not Your Usual Vegetables at the Negros Showroom Market

On Tuesdays and Fridays, a farmers' market occupies the parking space at the Negros Showroom on Lacson Street. Early morning joggers, and the meticulous, health-conscious set make a stop here, and office people find this a convenient, welcome addition to an urban commercial strip.

The farmers themselves bring and sell their fruits and vegetables in this space. From farms in San Carlos City and Barangay Patag, Silay, these crops are transported in protective crates, not sacks, as a rule. Another rule is that only potable water should be used in the final wash of the produce. These rules are just part of the major reason why these fruits and vegetables are not the usual. The fruits and vegetables available at the Negros Showroom farmers' market are GAP-certified.

GAP stands for “Good Agricultural Practices,” the certification of which is issued by the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Product Standards (BAFPS).

The Philippine GAP certification, adopted from the ASEAN and the global GAP, is an export requirement. Therefore, the produce at the Negros Showroom farmers' market are export quality.

A hallmark of a farm that is GAP-certified is its traceability. In the Code of Hygienic Practice for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, “traceability is the ability to follow the movement of produce through specified stages of production and distribution.”

Traceability means that one is able to identify the source of a crop, the conditions--whether of soil, water, weather, or farmer--with which it was planted, grown and picked, and even the farm inputs administered on it. Farm lots are properly coded, mapped, and fenced, water is analyzed for cleanliness, and fertilizers and pesticides are kept at the safest levels. All these agricultural activities and information are duly recorded and maintained for two years.

Good Agricultural Practices strictly uphold food safety, environmental protection, and worker's health, but if issues on these arise, traceability ensures that things can be tracked, addressed and corrected.

From planting, to harvesting, to selling, traceability gives vegetables a history that confidently deals with questions like, how far back into the chain can you claim that a product is “safe”, “fresh”, “clean”, “chemical-free”, and “fair trade”?

Indeed, these fruits and vegetables sold at competitive prices at the Negros Showroom farmers' market are not the usual; not the usual because these are unlike most of the crops in the local market that fall below food safety standards.

In the Philippines, only 39 farms are GAP-certified. Three (3) of these are farmers' organizations are in Negros. The members of these are mostly agrarian reform beneficiaries. They were all trained in GAP, qualified, and are continuously updated and linked to market.

A program called OURFood, or “Optimizing and Upscaling Roles in the Food Supply Chain” of the AFOS Foundation from Germany guides them in GAP. Its local partner is the Association of Negros Producers (ANP) which runs the Negros Showroom.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Slow Food Negros Island Summit Slated On November 27

BACOLOD, Philippines - Chefs, farmers, slow food advocates—even converts—unite at The Slow Food Negros Island Summit to give interesting insights on the most pressing issues about food, our food systems, and the way we eat.  The Slow Food Negros Island Summit will be held at the Social Hall of the Capitol Building in Bacolod City on November 27, Dr. Anabel Villanueva said yesterday.

At the summit, an introduction to Slow Food will be made by Pacita Juan, Reena Gamboa-Peña, Mia Gonzaga and Villanueva at 8 to 9 a.m. of November 27.

Ige Ramos will speak on “Tuklasin ang Katutubong Kulinaryo ng Pilipinas (discover Filipino dishes) at 9 a.m., and Nico Aberasturi -Homesteading Growing Food Instead of Lawns at 10 a.m., Villanueva said.

Margarita Fores will discuss the “The Philippines' Ark of Tastes” at 11 a.m., Hindy Weber Tantoco and Melanie Go – The Holistic Life at 1:30 p.m., Amy Besa – Green is Gold in Negros at 3 p.m. and Cherrie Attilano – Making Agriculture Smart and Sexy at 4 p.m., she added.

A Slow Food tasting by the Slow Food Negros Island Convivium will be held at noon, she said.

Slow Food Negros Island is a group of volunteers dedicated in saving endangered food, celebrating gastronomic traditions, promoting good, clean, and fair food, as well as building a healthy relationship among producers, chefs, and consumers.

Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement founded in 1989 by Carlo Petrini and a group of passionate individuals. It started when an international fast food franchise expressed its interest in opening a branch at the famous Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy. The citizens protested by sharing a big bowl of penne pasta with the crowds and began chanting “we don’t want fast food, we want slow food.” Perhaps it was the first time that it was officially coined, the tedious processes of producing and preparing various ingredients for select dishes like cheese, wine, fish, meat, as well as the traditional cooking methods have always been practiced in different parts of the world. After that incident in the ‘80s, what started as a protest to fast food grew to a global movement active in over 100 countries.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Aetas Benefit from Organically Grown Mangoes

The Preda Fair Trade project buys the mangoes of all sizes and shape and color without separation and segregation but by the kilo and pays a whopping 200 percent higher than the local traders. Now every piece of mango fruit is valuable and is enthusiastically harvested and brought to a collection point where a Preda vehicle picks it and delivers the mangoes to the processing plant three hours drive away.

The indigenous Aeta have reached the international organic standards of the European Union and have just been awarded organic certification for mangoes. This is one of the highest and most strict standards in the world. Their achievement is the first in the Philippines. No other community has achieved that standard and certification. Indeed it is a proud achievement and possible because of the non-chemical and natural practices of the Aeta in caring for their ancestral lands and agricultural practices. The training by the Preda organic team helped make it possible. Besides, other development projects were achieved also such as village water sources development and distribution of educational supplies.

There is no end to the demand for the Aeta organic mango puree in the European market place. Orders are increasing from the likes of Fair Trade Dritte Welt Partner (DWP) from Ravensburg, South Germany. DWP makes the superb Fair Trade organic products out of the mango puree and distributes them to the World Shops. The practice of Fair Trade and organic production is spreading in the Philippines as more Aeta communities join the Preda Fair Trade Aeta Farmers Association.

It is an important success story for Fair Trade as many more indigenous communities could be helped to develop their natural resources and agricultural products and better their lives and that of the whole community.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Negros Island hosts 12th NOAC and celebrates 10th Organic Farmers Festival

Negros is annually looking forward for the Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival wherein Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental organic innovations and products are being showcased and organic farmers, advocates, top chefs, restaurateurs and tourists from all over the country gather in this annual event to celebrate organic food, organic farming, and organic lifestyle in the island. Each year is just getting bigger and brighter for the island’s agricultural industry.

2015 is going to be much different; the biggest at its finest. About 1,800 organic farmers, stakeholders from LGU’s, academe, extension workers, scientists, and experts coming from different parts of the country will visit the island for the 12th National Organic Agriculture Congress (NOAC). The province of Negros Occidental will host the National Organic Agriculture Congress in Bacolod City and to coincide with the 10th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival, the two big events in organic agriculture in the country into one with its theme, “Farm to Table” / “Mula Taniman hanggang Hapagkainan” / “Halin Talamnan tubtub Kalan-an”.

Organized by the Department of Agriculture under the National Organic Agriculture Program, Negros Occidental Provincial Government in partnership with Organic na Negros! Producers and Retailers Association (ONOPRA), the national congress will be held on November 25-27 at SMX Convention Center, to be followed with the annual organic festival on November 25-29 at the Provincial Capitol grounds.

Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that it proves that organic is the way to go and thanked Gov. Alfredo G. Marañon, Jr. for this.

“I have been attending the Negros Organic Festival for the past five years and is amazed of how fast it has grown,” she said.

She said that she is looking forward to having the 12th NOAC in the province of Negros Occidental and added that it is but fitting to have it in the only organic province in the country.

ONOPRA President Ramon Uy, Jr. said that the theme “Farm to Table” was selected because they want to focus and strengthen on every step of the organic supply chain in the country.

“There is no better place than to hold it here in Negros Island, the leader in organic in the country, it is only fitting to held it here because of the big organic movement of the province, we have the best examples from farm to table,” he said.

Organic stakeholders would indeed learn from our experiences and stories as we would also learn from them. Everyone is getting excited about it for this will definitely be the biggest gathering of organic agriculture in the country.

By: Karla Panganiban

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Separation of Negros Occidental from Western Visayas a big loss to organic agriculture

Photo from

Western Visayas will be affected due to the separation of Negros Occidental from the region.

Roy Abaya, officer-in-charge of Department of Agriculture-6, stressed that Negros Occidental is one of the leading provinces in organic agriculture.

He added that 70 percent of the region’s organic products are from this province.

He stressed that the departure of the province from Region 6 due to the creation of the new region is a big loss to organic agriculture.

Because of this development, Abaya is urging the remaining provinces in Region 6 to boost organic farming. “Nevertheless, looking at the entire Philippines, Negros can still contribute to the growth of organic agriculture in the country,” he said.

Five percent of agricultural lands in the country should be converted to organic farmland by next year, he said, as he cited Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010.

He added that one third of the farmlands nationwide are into organic farming.

Meanwhile, Abaya said the DA regional offices in Western Visayas and Central Visayas have recently met following the order of President Benigno Aquino III to all national agencies to extend assistance during the transition of the newly-created Negros Island Region.

The DA regional office of the new region will be set up in Bacolod City, in Negros Occidental during the three-year transition period.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

CPAC gears toward organic agriculture

THE Central Philippine Adventist College (CPAC) in Murcia, Negros Occidental is applying for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification with the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS) as a first step towards the implementation of its organic agriculture program, its official said.

Carlos Jardeniano Jr., program head for agriculture and research director of CPAC, said the GAP certification would further boost their products, which means it will be declared safer and of higher quality for better market reach and profitability.

Jardeniano said that of the 122-hectare area covered by CPAC, almost 100 hectares is dedicated to agricultural land use such as sugarcane field and orchard with different fruits trees and vegetable crops, mostly still non-organic.

The school has been doing well in terms of its agriculture programs, particularly in maintaining high production, he said.
For further development, it is eyeing to venture more into organic agriculture because of its emerging commercial value and demand.
It is feasible through acquisition of GAP certification, Jardeniano said.

Moreover, he said that CPAC was already accredited by the bureau to conduct efficacy trial on various commodities prior to the registration of organic fertilizers.

"We now have the privilege to conduct the test on the efficacy level of an organic fertilizer used by farmers in the country for it to be registered by the BAFS," he added.

Meanwhile, Jardeniano said that as they host the first province-wide vegetable congress on August 27, CPAC will showcase its products as well as its different agricultural practices and mechanism to more than 300 local vegetable farmers.

A group of vegetable farmers from the province of Antique will also participate for them to replicate the school’s best agricultural practices in their respective localities.

Written by: Erwin P. Nicavera

MB’s Agriculture mag hosts organic farming trade fair at Eastwood City

Organic farming advocates, believers and supporters gathered yesterday at the Urban Agriculture: Organic Market at Eastwood City’s Central Plaza to further promote and advance the concept of organic agriculture and urban farming.

Urban Agriculture: Organic Market at Eastwood City will again open its gates to the public for two more Sundays, August 23 and 30.

Organized by Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp.’s Agriculture Magazine, which is marking its 18th anniversary, the weekend event, among others, showcases the benefits of consuming organic products, urban farming and the importance of support for the country’s local farmers.

The Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP) and Negros Island Organic Certification Services likewise provided instrumental support behind the Urban Agriculture: Organic Market event.

Numerous booths were set-up for organic farm owners and food producers who introduced their goods and explained the benefits of organic products to eager and keen consumers.

“Organic agriculture combines innovation and science to benefit the environment and to know fair relationship and good quality of life for all involved; the farmer and the consumer are given equal importance,” OOCP Executive Director Leila Ramona Limpin said.

OOCP, a certifying body for international and local organic products, protects the buying public by guaranteeing food is safe and free of adverse chemical components.


“In my view, the only way to protect the future generation is by providing healthy and safe food, protecting the environment,” Limpin said.

Agriculture Magazine Editor-in-Chief Zac Sarian, meantime, said purchasing organically-grown food products does not only make a person healthier, but also helps the local farmers.

“Para mas maging mas malusog, kakain tayo ng ligtas na pagkain; at mabibigyan din natin ng pagkakataon na kumita yung mga ating kababayan,” (To be healthier, we must consume safe and healthy food; that way, we also help support the sources of income of our local farmers),” he said.


Sarian also pushed for a massive organic farming information drive among farmers, many of whom still do not have even a slight grasp of the concept.

“Marami ring problema sa kagamitan, hindi sanay yung mga kakabayan natin sa kagamitan at pamamaraan ng organic agriculture, kulang ang supply, kulang ang kaalaman, kulang pati yung espasyo na pagtataniman,” (There are many problems, people are not familiar with organic farming methods, there is lack of general knowledge, there is also the problem of lack of planting space),” he said.

Sarian said featuring farming innovations and developments in Agriculture Magazine is one way of enhancing the knowledge of farmers and would-be farmers.

Written by: Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Bigger and Better

The 2nd Urban Agriculture trade show will be staged on Sept. 5 and 6 at the SM Mall of Asia. This is under the auspices of Manila Bulletin’s Agriculture Magazine and a sequel to the very successful event held last May at the Rockwell Tent in Makati.

The Rockwell Tent proved to be too small for the event and so it was transferred to a bigger venue this time, the spacious Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

The aim of the trade show is simple enough. It wants to showcase the latest practical technologies that will enable ordinary urban residents to do their own brand of gardening and farming, growing plants as well as raising small animals for home consumption or for sale to augment the family’s income.

For the busy urbanite, who does not have the time to water his plants every day, Dr. Eduardo Paningbatan, Jr. of UP Los Baños has come up with the practical aquaponics, which is growing vegetables and other plants with their roots submerged in water. Normally, we know that most vegetables (except kangkong) will not thrive in water because they will be deprived of oxygen. Well, Dr. Paningbatan devised a new technique that enables vegetables to thrive. He exhibited an example at the recent Agri-Kapihan at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City. The water container that he used was a blue plastic drum that was halved lengthwise. The drum was then filled with water. Atop the halved drum was welded wire that had slots big enough to accommodate plants grown in small recycled plastic cups. The plants were submerged in water and held upright by the welded wire. Why didn’t the vegetable wilt? Well, Dr. Paningbatan added algae in the water which provided the dissolved oxygen needed by the plants. He also put small tilapia to eat the wrigglers in case mosquitoes were present. Of course, he also added a special nutrient extract to nourish the plants.

One example of Dr. Paningbatan’s very healthy plants submerged in water is the Japanese variety of saluyot. The plants grow robust and blemish-free in the water. Other vegetables and herbs can also be grown in the same manner. Of course, many vegetables and herbs can be grown the conventional way in various containers available for the urban home. What is important is to supply the plants with the right growing medium, which can be mixtures of compost, carbonized rice hull, or other porous materials available like coco peat. You will get to know many of them in the agri trade show.

There will be organic and conventionally grown vegetables and fruits at the trade show, too, which attendees can buy. There will also be lectures on timely topics. See you there on Sept. 5 and 6. Entrance is free.

Written by: Zac Sarian

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Vegetable Congress set

The first Vegetable Congress will be held at the Central Philippine Adventist College in Barangay Alegria, Murcia town, Negros Occidental, on August 27.

Carlos Jardeniano, CPAC program head of agriculture, said that atleast 300 farmers are expected to attend the congress, he said.

The congress is the initiative of the institution to showcase vegetable production and technology applied by their agricultural scholars, he added.

“An opportune time for farmers to be exposed to the different setting and the acquisition of agricultural knowledge in the process,” he said.

Among the vegetables and fruits to be showcased were cauliflowers, low-land cabbages, ampalayas, sweet corn, lettuce, rambutan, marang, lanzones and durian, he added.

Set as guest speakers were Provincial Agriculturist Igmedio Tabianan and other officials from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist. They will discuss the impact of the vegetable production to the local economy and the industry’s road map before the vegetable farmers and agriculture students.

CPAC instructors will also conduct lectures on the value of good seeds in cutting-edge vegetable production and good agricultural practices.

OPA senior agriculturist Dina Genzola said that students may partner with vegetable farmers in pursuit of agriculture development, especially on high-value crops production, through the congress.

The congress will serve as an experience and learning venues for the students, she added.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sugarcane block farming increases farm productivity

Photo from

Atleast 19 pilot block farms showed an average increase from 50.78 Tons Cane per Hectare (TC/Ha) to 65.29 TC/Ha, or a 29% increase in farm productivity in crop year 2013-2014 after being enrolled in the block farming program for a year, the Sugar Regulatory Administration said.

Block farming was introduced in the pilot farms in 2012 by the SRA in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform.

With the capacity-building, technical assistance, farm planning and farm management support provided by SRA, all the pilot block farms showed increases in productivity that ranged from 7.47% to 100%.

Hda. Bernardita ARB MPC in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, showed a 7.47% increase from its initial productivity of 77.00 TC/Ha to 82.75 TC/Ha with block farming, SRA said.

Likewise, the North Cluster Producers COOP in Paniqui, Tarlac showed a 100% increase in productivity from 50 TC/Ha to 100 TC/Ha.

This average 29% increase in productivity would translate to an estimated average increase of farmers’ income by P39,815 per hectare, at 1.96 LKG/TC and a composite price of P1,400 per LKG-bag of raw sugar.

Block farming is the consolidation of the management of small farms of less than five  hectares, into a bigger but contiguous unit of at least 30 hectares for purposes of improving farm productivity while individual ownership is preserved.

Based on SRA records, about 85% of sugarcane farm in the country have areas five hectares and below, due to the natural course of land subdivision by inheritance, sale, and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

While sugarcane is a plantation crop and its cost-efficiency is best achieved with bigger farm sizes of at least 30 hectares, with the aggressive implementation of the CARP, farm sizes are fragmented into small landholding of less than five hectares wherein farm owners can no longer take advantage of the economies of scale.

This is aggravated by the fact that most of the present land owners (CARP beneficiaries) do not have the financial capability to provide the proper farm inputs which resulted in low productivity.
This is one of the greatest hurdles that the sugarcane industry faces.

The Block Farm Program envisions the conversion of the consolidated farms into agribusiness centers through professionalized farm management and mechanized farming; with provisions for logistical, financial, technical, marketing and production support services from various government agencies, banking and financial institutions, and private sectors.

To date, 130 block farms have enrolled for accreditation, with a total area of about 7,000 hectares.

Of these, about 90 block farms will be assisted under the new SRA-DAR-DA convergence which is set to start this month, while about 50 block farms will be assisted under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act next year.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Social entrepreneur speaks at Organic Market

Atilano (photo from
A 28-year-old Negrense social entrepreneur, agriculturist and farmer, talked on agri-business at the eighth installation of Organic Market at The District Northpoint Ayala Mall in Talisay City, which opened on July 25-26.

Cherrie Atilano, who grew up in Silay City and was a scholar of the Provincial Capitol under the Pagkaon Scholarship Program, talked on "AGREA: The Business of Agri-business" on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Atilano graduated magna cum laude from the Visayas State University with a degree on agriculture. She is a founder of AGREA Agricultural Systems International, and a consultant of the Department of Agrarian Reform.

She has worked at the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation as executive assistant of its founder, Antonio Meloto, and at Ayala Land Inc. as landscape horticulturist supervisor and head of Land Development.

Meanwhile, the Organic Market again highlighted "slow food," or the use of organic or naturally farmed ingredients that are cooked without the use of commercial seasonings.

Slow Food Negros president Reena Gamboa-Pena said they sold food that has been cooked in the traditional way to remind their fellow Negrenses to not only eat well but to remember their culture.

The Organic Market showcased certified organic fresh produce and all-natural processed products, local artisanal food, homegrown native products, vegetarian dishes, and specialty diets; organic poultry and livestocks; organic farming inputs, supplies, equipment and technology; and handicrafts, textiles and clothing.

The Organic Market is spearheaded by the provincial government of Negros Occidental in partnership with Organik na Negros! Organic Producers and Retailers Association (ONOPRA) lead by its president, Ramon Uy Jr.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Compost Tea in Organic Farming

Photo from
"FARMING is an art. Speaking with the same language to the soil and seeds and microorganisms and the environment is essential in farming. You have to have a connection with them."

This is according to Francis "Koko" Sajulga, the man behind Aloha Organic Garden located in Mahayag in Bunawan, Davao City.

An almost a hectare garden, Aloha is back in the business operations in February this year after it stopped operations for a year.

"We temporarily suspended our operations when we moved to the US for a year for benchmarking with other organic and botanical gardens outside the country," Sajulga said in vernacular, adding that he and his family came up with the decision in their pursuit for learning and acquiring new knowledge, techniques and methods in organic farming.

Aloha is a "Compost Tea" method in gardening, which utilizes an effective, low-strength, natural fertilizer for seedlings and garden plants. It can suppress fungal plant diseases.

The tea brewing process, Sajulga said, extracts and multiplies nutrients and beneficial bacteria and fungi from the wastes called rabbit dung, goat dung, among others and suspend it in the water then spray it to the plants. The process is called "collar spraying."

"One of the things I learned during my educational tour and seminars to different botanical gardens which I applied in Aloha is the compost tea method. What's good in this agricultural practice is it does not require special equipment, it is very easy and it's natural," he said, adding that he learned it during his seminar at Minnesota Botanical Garden in Minneapolis.

Aloha offers a wide array of culinary herbs that come in packs and potted plants. These are Tarragon, Rosemary, Hybrid Basils, Turmeric, Peppermint, Spearmint, and Cilantro, among others.

The organic garden employs five farmers who were trained by Sajulja himself.

"Since the garden is expanding, I can't do it alone so I hire staff to help me. It is also my way of helping them and incorporating in their lifestyle the organic way of living. I even encourage them to plant and have a garden in their houses," he said.

Aloha plans to expand and develop some idle properties of his friends and business partners to covert these lands to organic garden.

Aloha is also in the process of securing a certification from organic certifying bodies.

Aloha organic herb is available in different malls in the city and has plans in introducing new products in the market called "organic dried seasoning." It also offers organic vinegars, herb isaw, organic grilled pork steak, roast beef with herb sauce made available during their food bazaars and exhibits.

It also offers organic potted herbs in a form of giveaways for eco-themed events at P100 to P150. It was featured in the recently concluded 1st Mindanao Halal Festival last July 15 to 16.

For more information, visit their Facebook page

Written by: Ace June Rell S. Perez

Negros Island Region 18 Is Ahead Of The Global Average For Organic Farming Cultivation

The newly created Negros Island Region (Region 18) is one blessed island which serves as a shining example of how a province can chart a pathway to its own food sustenance.  Slowly but surely, Negros Island is showing the rest of the Philippines that going organic makes sense. 

Despite being physically separated by the Mt. Kanlaon range, the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental are of one mind in harnessing land resources towards organic farming.  In fact, Negros Island Region 18 now exceeds the world average in terms of lands allocated to organic agriculture.

The global average for agricultural land dedicated to organic farming is 3 percent.  Negros Island is currently at 4%, and growing!  An enthusiastic group dedicated to organic farming, Organik na Negros! Producers and Retailers Association (ONOPRA) is spearheading various awareness campaigns to attract not just consumers but potential organic farmers into this food sustenance revolution.

Last year, Negros Island was featured
in a 25-minute Living Asia Channel documentary dubbed as the Organic Bowl of Asia.

For those visiting Negros Island, one only needs to make their way to Rapha Valley in the uphill municipality of Don Salvador Benedicto to learn from Dr. Albert Jo, a medical doctor who explains to his visitors the various health benefits of various plants and flowers. 

It is through small platforms for education as these as well as wider scale public media awareness (now even made easier via the use of social media) that helps Negros Island move further in its emphasis and thrust for organic farming.

With this in mind, 5% in terms of agricultural land use for organic farming for Negros Island Region 18 will not be surprising at all.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Plant varieties of organic rice, farmers urged

The farmers in Negros Occidental were urged to plant varieties of organic rice so they can gain additional value in their production.

Edgar Libertario, PhilRice-Negros officer-in-charge, said that they have prepared programs to help the farmers choose the right variety of rice.

One of PhilRice’s programs, which is the Farmers Participatory Varietal Development and Palay Check, is designed to assist farmers in choosing the kind of variety and techniques they will use in rice farming.

Among the rice varieties were: aromatic rice, brown rice, purple and black rice and the ride variety.

They are all higher in price compared to the regular rice but have higher level of nutrients, vitamin content and has anti-oxidant property, Libertario said.

“We are like a big restaurant. We cater to every need of the farmers. We serve whatever is in demand and we will never give stuff which you don’t want to eat. We have everything including the technology. And since Negros is into organic farming, we will offer everything organic as long as it is anchored with science,” Libetario said

The province will be a good case study for the development of organic rice and its production, he said.

The provincial government of Negros Occidental had been pushing farmers to shift on organic agriculture and has shunned genetically modified organism-crops from entering the province.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

250 farmers undergo training on organic vegetable production

The farmers who are undergoing a three-month training 
on Organic Vegetable Production at the Merceditas J. Montilla
 Agricultural and Vocational Demo Farm in the Moises
 Padilla town with Negros Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., 
Moises Padilla Mayor Ella Celestina Yulo, 
Gen. Jon Aying, former commanding officer 
of the 303rd Infantry Brigade. /Capitol Photo
At least 250 farmers from Negros Occidental were being trained on organic vegetable production.

The farmers were taking the Organic Vegetable Production Class 01-15 at the Merceditas J. Montilla Agricultural and Vocational Demo Farm in the Municipality of Moises Padilla, which started recently.

The provincial government has allocated P800,000 for the three-month training on organic vegetable production.

The farmers received planting materials and will attend series of classes and planting activities.

The program is intended to promote organic farming as well as to enhance the knowledge and skills of vegetable growers on potential and updated technology.

It is expected to boost the achievement of the provincial government’s thrust to enhance food security and agricultural productivity in the province.

 Marañon said he is happy to help the farmers and told them to work hard because such training would improve their quality of life.

He also advised the farmers to ask for God’s guidance during their training.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tribute Paid to Benjie Casipe, 37, A Great Environmentalist

Leaders in Negros Island's circle of conservationists continue to pay tribute to the life of Benjie Casipe, only 37 years old, a dedicated environmentalist, who passed away in a tragic way last week.

A dreadful incident of robbery and merciless beating landed him in a hospital and eventually caused his untimely death in Bacolod last week. The culprit, a trisikad driver, remains unknown as of this time.  Nevertheless, all are hoping that he will be caught the soonest possible time, and justice will be served on the senseless killing of a young person, who has dedicated his life in community service and working for the good of our environment.

Gerry Ledesma, president of the Philippines Reef and Rainforest Foundation Inc., said Benjie was an excellent community worker and a staunch conservationist. A sorry loss of a good man, Ledesma added, as he pointed out that whoever had beaten up Benjie must know how precious he was.

Benjie was so passionate about what he was doing, particularly in promoting environmental education and dealing with community affairs.

Bacolod Councilor Jocelle Batapa Sigue, on her Facebook post, expressed her sadness on the untimely demise of her friend, and claimed that she will work hard in fast tracking the passage of an ordinance regulating the trisikad and tricycle operations in the city. Sigue said she would do it in spite of possible political repercussions, as some individuals warned her, since nobody dared in the past to touch the issue of the unregulated operations of tricycles and trisikad in Bacolod.

Benjie was also a very active volunteer of the Green Alert Negros. Rusty Biñas, one of the GAN's prime movers, has this to say for Benjie: “We will celebrate your life and contribution to the environment activism. You touched us in many ways, and your peculiar way of telling your story makes us all happy. We will always remember you and your work, especially in protecting the wildlife of Negros when you gave them voice for more than two decades.”

The staff and writers of convey their deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this wonderful person who left so soon.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

PTV4 Launches TV Program On Organic Farming

OA Ako!, a television program spearheaded by the Spread Organic Agriculture in the Philippines group will begin its pilot program on July 11, 2015 at 9:00am.

This is a much needed television program which will help reach more potential organic farmers in the country.

The pilot programs aims to show what Spread Organic Agriculture in the Philippines in spreading the gospel of Organic Farming.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Negros Island Leads The Way In Successful Organic Farming

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. checks out the organic products during the opening of the 9th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival in November 2014 at the North Capitol Road, Bacolod City.
The newly created One Island Region of Negros, encompassing Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental has shown the rest of the Philippines the pathway to successful organic farming.

Ramon Uy Jr., president of the Organic na Negros Organic Producers and Retailers Association (ONOPRA), said that there are 10,000 organic areas in the province, adding that farmers have an annual income of P100,000.

In Negros Occidental alone, the annual gross sales of organic farming was pegged at P1 billion.

Uy claimed that organic farming have improve the lives and income of the farmers here.

For Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., the "organic movement have been growing by leaps and bounds."

He vowed that he would continue supporting this movement since it will improve the lives of the poor.

He challenged the agrarian reform beneficiaries not to sell their lands, "plant high-value crops because the government will support you."

"We're an agricultural country. We have a rice soil and good weather," the governor said, adding that the provincial government is trying its best to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.

This was furhter affirmed by the Department of Agriculture which said that organic farming is successful primarily in Western Visayas where Negros Occidental belongs.

Leo Cañeda, coordinator of DA’s National Organic Agriculture Board, said that the organic farming program of the agency had been running in the region for more than four years since the Organic Agriculture Act was passed in 2010, as he stressed that there’s no reason for the program to fail in its birthplace.

Cañeda said that the law targets to transform five percent of the country’s agricultural lands into organic agriculture.

According to DA, about 32,000 hectares of the 633,000 agricultural land area in the region were already converted into organic agriculture.

The province of Negros Occidental, which is known for sugar, aimed to be the organic farming capital of the country.

Meanwhile, small scale farmers who are into rice, corn, high-value crops and livestock production can avail of the crop insurance program.

The farmers, however, should conform to the Philippine National Standard  on Organic Farming so they will be certified as organic practitioners for their products to have access in domestic and foreign markets.

Additional Funding

Recently, the World Bank had allocated P191 million for Negros Occidental after it was chosen as priority province of the national government’s Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP).

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. stressed that it is a big boost to the province’s agricultural sector and advocacy on organic farming.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for us to feed the whole country. Let the PRDP be a model for all provinces because this will help the underprivileged solve poverty and generate more employment for Negros Occidental,” he said.

The PRDP is a platform that calls for an inclusive, value chain-oriented and climate-oriented agriculture and fisheries sectors. Using the $500 million fund from the World Bank through a 15-year old loan agreement, the national government extended grants for agricultural enhancement programs of qualified local government units.

Negros Occidental was the only local government unit in the Visayas cluster that was chosen as pilot area with muscovado as a priority commodity for development.

Marañon emphasized that rice self-sufficiency remains as his top priority, adding that about 50,000 hectares of rice land are currently irrigated and is expected to expand to 90,000 in the next five years or so.

“The resources of this province are beyond imagination. The agriculture sector is like your three-in-one coffee. It is the key to solving poverty and unemployment,” the governor pointed out, as he cited that the Philippines is the “darling” of agricultural advancement in Asia, and was way ahead of Japan, growth-wise in the 50s and 60s.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Composting machine helps farmers in Bacolod

Senator Cynthia Villar cuts the ribbon of the composting machine.
Also in photo are
 First Lady Josefa Puentevella
 and Councilors Kalaw Puentevella and Wilson Gamboa, Jr. (Bacolod PIO Photo)

The composting machine is a big help to the farmers here.

Senator Cynthia Villar recently turned over the farm equipment to the city government of Bacolod, as it is a part of her advocacy on solid waste management.

Villar said that the composting machine will help the farmers increase their income while, at the same time, promote organic farming in the community.

The senator said that the composting machine will produce quality organic fertilizers and feeds out of kitchen waste.

She said that the farm equipment will also teach the farmers produce their own input. She added this is a step towards the realization on the modern farming vision of the Department of Agriculture.

Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, disclosed that DA had already donated eight composting machines to different cities in the country.

During her recent visit on the potential tourism farms in the province, Villar said she was “happy and impressed” by the farmers’ creativity and entrepreneurial skills.

Meanwhile, Ma. FeTresfuentes, executive assistant for solid waste management, said the composting machine will be placed either at the Office of the City Agriculture in Barangay Alijis, or at the sanitary landfill in Barangay Felisa.


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