Senator backs shift to organic farming of high-value crops
A senator running for vice president in the upcoming May 2016 elections has urged the government to ramp up its drive in promoting the shift to organic farming, particularly of high-value crops like garlic, ginger, sweet potatoes and bananas.
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. said such proposal would cushion the impact on local farmers of the influx of duty-free commodities expected after the ASEAN Economic Community came into force last Dec. 31.
“Shifting to organic, high-value crops could provide our small farmers the edge they need to compete with their counterparts in our neighboring countries as demand for organic food continue to increase worldwide,” Marcos said.
The High-Value Crops Development Act of 1995 already provides incentives and affordable credit facilities for the production of HVCs on top of foreign funds available for the purpose.
The Department of Agriculture included in the list of HVCs cabbage, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, squash, peanuts, cucumber, saluyot, sigarilyas, ube, calamansi, coffee, durian, other citrus fruits, guapple, mango, jackfruit, mangosteen, papaya, watermelon, guyabano, among others.
“We can go a step further by promoting organic farming to increase the value and competitiveness of our agricultural products in the world market. As a bonus, going organic will help protect our environment,” the senator said.
He said the government can achieve this by giving financial assistance to farmers during the initial phase of the transition to organic farming when production output normally declines.
The government can also tap cooperatives and organizations to share best practices in organic farm management.
In addition to vital infrastructures such as irrigation, roads and electricity, Marcos also said the government should invest in modern post-harvest facilities to ensure a high quality of organic produce upon delivery to the market.
But more importantly, he said the government must conduct an aggressive marketing campaign of the country’s organic and HVCs in the international market. [Ched Romulo]