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“Producing food while sustaining the ecological balance is the best legacy the TAPFPAT can give to our present and future generations,” says Elmer S. Salazar, Manager of The Agri Planters and Food Processors Association of Tigaon (TAPFPAT).

The TAPFPAT is the 2016 national outstanding Organic Agriculture Group awarded by Sec. Emmanuel F. Piñol during the 13th National Organic Agriculture Congress held in Ilocos Norte last year. They received P500,000 project grant which they will use to venture in organic fertilizer production (bokashi), additional capitalization for their projects and production support.

Based in Tigaon, in the province of Camarines Sur, TAPFPAT is a living testimony that organic farming is profitable and at the same time sustainable. It started its operations in June 2013 and registered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in November 2015. It has 51 members coming from 12 barangays of Tigaon, all of them practicing organic farming in an aggregate area of 50.64 hectares. Initially, 14 of them have applied to the OCCP for the 3rd party organic certification.

         Adelina A. Losa, Regional focal person for Organic Agriculture Program of Bicol said the association has set up an ICS to achieve product qualities that meet market requirements, establish cohesive marketing unit and enhance capabilities to reach economies of scales. Chairman Salazar heads the ICS personnel; there are three members in the Internal Approval Committee; 2 internal inspectors; 1 buying officer and 1 treasurer; the municipal focal person for OA serves as technical adviser.

The association is composed of farmer producers of cacao, pili, coconut, rice, high value vegetables, poultry and livestock. They regularly meet at the chairman’s farm every last Saturday of the month. Their meetings were all well attended by the members as shown in their minutes and attendance sheets. It has three dynamic committees: the committee on membership, committee on agriculture, education and research, and committee on welfare. Compliance to ICS is being monitored weekly by the Quality Control Manager, Internal Inspector and Technical Adviser.

The association is aiding in the development of the rural communities in Tigaon through the adoption of practices on sustainable agriculture or organic farming, ecological waste management, disaster risk reduction management strategies, and climate change mitigation technologies.

          Some members who have one hectare farm areas or more are now getting regular income from their organic agriculture venture. One of them is 2015 National Organic Farming Family awardee Mario Avila whose 2 hectare area is devoted to commercial production of organic fruits and vegetables, aquaculture, livestock and poultry production. On the average, Mario gets a net income of P4,000 monthly. He is also engaged in vermiculture. The Aljerose farm is a favorite learning site for students and farmers, and is frequently entertaining curious visitors and lakbay-aral. Thus, Mario hires 12-15 men and women to help in the maintenance of the farm.

Another enterprising member of TAPFPAT is Rebeca Purisima. She is now known not only in Tigaon and neighboring towns as producer of good quality seedlings of organic herbs, fruits, vegetables as she always participates in organic trade fairs. She is earning P3,000 a month from the sale of organic products.   She is also frequently invited by the DA and other agencies as resource speaker on the production and preparation of herbal medicines, soaps and liniment during trainings which are held at the DA regional office, in Naga City and even in the faraway province of Sorsogon.

          The former Chairman of the Regional Agriculture and Fishery Council of Bicol, Mr. Jose Cordero who is also an organic agriculture practitioner, is also a member and used to be one of the Board of Directors of the association. The first location of the Natures Pride Organic Store was at his farm, but now the store has been transferred to the poblacion.

          Equipped with the necessary skills in organic agriculture, the TAPFPAT officers and members were tapped by the LGU to facilitate OA seminars and workshops for other farmers. Most notable among them were nine (9) batches of Advocacy and Specialization Training on OA Program in barangays Tinawagan, Salvacion, and Gubat; series of trainings for different participants such as the indigenous people of Tigaon, Tigaon parishioners, rural women, 4Ps, teachers, and Barangay Huyon-huyon Palay Grower

The individual farmer members does not have problems in marketing their produce, because the association has established a display area in the poblacion which is now popularly known in Tigaon as TAPFPAT Nature’s Pride Organic Store. All the produce of the individual farmers which were not bought at the farm were brought to the organic store. It is manned by an out-of-school youth who also do the retail markup pricing of the agricultural products. They declared every Sunday as OA market day.

         One of the things that prove the success of the implementation of organic agriculture program in Tigaon, Camarines Sur are farmers from neighboring municipalities who come to visit the TAPFPAT members’ farms to see for themselves and learn the organic practices of the TAPFPAT farmers.

In 2016, the Department of Agriculture has turned over Pinawa rice mill, vegetable dehydrator, and vermi compost facility to add to their old facilities. Recently, they received two (2) native breeder hogs from the Organic Agriculture Program of the Department of Agriculture in Bicol.

By LOVELLA P. GUARIN