The Maranao People Development Center (MARADECA), Inc. in partnership with the Department of Agrarian Reform through the support of the Italian Agrarian Reform Community Development Support Program (IARCDSP) conducted a series of training on a number of organic-based agricultural technologies that include the following:
Organic Fertilizer and Pesticides Making, Organic Vegetable Production, training on Open Pollinated Varieties (OPV) on Corn and Organic Rice Production
The training venues were in the municipalities of Piagapo, Bubong, Tamparan, Pagayawan and Balabagan all in the province of Lanao del Sur.
Much has been discussed about Organic Agriculture, its definition, advantages and disadvantages to the existing agricultural practices and supporters of conventional farming system.
MARADECA emphasizes in its training that Organic Agriculture goes hand in hand with ecological and natural farming. The basic principle is “nourish the soil by not using by not using synthetic chemicals and pesticides”.
This basic principles therefore considers Organic Agriculture as a continuum with the following components; 1) Research and Development 2) Production 3) Marketing/Consumption.
In the trainings that MARADECA have had conducted, the best technical people were invited like in the person of Dr. Papala Lawaniza from the City Agriculture Office of the Department of Agriculture in Marawi City to guide the farmers for the soil test and analysis.
One important thing to consider is to learn about the condition of the soil. Another expert was also invited from the Agriculture Department of Mindanao State University Dr. Amir A. Comadug to discuss crop production.
The most important component of Organic Agriculture is the production of crop produce which are sold and consumed as fresh or processed. To be considered “Organic” the production system must follow organic standards and the primary criteria is the use of organic inputs, fertilizers, pesticides and seeds.
The biggest opportunity and challenge therefore in organic agriculture is to reverse the trend from dependence on synthetic chemical fertilizers to the use of organic fertilizers for the following reasons:
(a) Organic fertilizers add life to the soil. It connects soil acidity, improves soil structure thereby improving soil porosity, aeration and water retention. Organic Fertilizer improves the organic matter content of the soil and provides food to the highly diversified micro and macro biosphere in the soil like the earthworms and beneficial microorganisms;
(b) Concern for the farmer-synthetic chemical fertilizer contains synthetic components that the farmers are exposed to either through inhaling or skin contact. Organic Fertilizer provides cheap inputs compared to the inorganic fertilizer, lowering production costs and giving the farmers access to higher income opportunities and more purchasing power;
(c) Concern for the economy and sustainable development goals of the government. Agriculture is a major contributor to our economic growth must be higher if our agricultural production system is organic or organic-based. Farmers who use Organic farming as discussed in our trainings would have higher incomes and purchasing power, thereby enabling them to procure additional necessities (food, clothing, services) for their family which would likewise provide a positive growth effect in the other industries producing and providing these necessities and services.
Organic Agriculture strictly adheres to the use of farming practices that do away with synthetic pesticides, hence there are opportunities for enterprising farmers and entrepreneurs to venture into production.
Seeds and planting materials promotes the use of natural, indigenous and open pollinated variety (OPV). Organic Agriculture standards strictly prohibit the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), the obvious reason is sustainability and safeguarding seed/selection and improvement.
Organic agriculture provides opportunities for farmers and local seed growers, instead of the multinational seed companies trying to lure Filipino farmers to be dependent on their seeds in the guise of modern technology and high yields.
From the foregoing trainings, organic agriculture offers a lot with endless opportunities in terms of farmer and consumer safety & health, environmental conservation, and income opportunities. It is important to remember, however that there are organic agriculture standards that must be met.