The Organic Agriculture Program of the Department of Agriculture in Region IX has conducted quite a number of activities to promote and to widen appreciation of the organic agriculture program in the region. The turnout of organic adopters in the region is now on a steady climb. Interventions of the program include distribution of seeds, animals, biological control agents, vermicast, vermiworms, machineries and equipment. A total of eight (8) operational techno-demo farms were established. There were three (3) DA research stations maintained as source of seeds and breeding stocks for poultry and livestock. Champion organic commodities in the region include native chicken, cassava, adlay, soybean, calamansi and colored rice. Out of the five (5) Organic Trading Posts, two (2) are operational, catering 2nd party certified organic products. Value-adding is promoted in the region like processing of organic adlay, soybean, cassava and calamansi. As to date, we are on the process of pre-assessing qualified organic practitioners for 3rd party certification subsidy beneficiaries in the region for them to penetrate to bigger markets of certified organic products.
Per report from the different Local Government Units, a total of 29,000 hectares, which was 74% of the 5% target have been converted to organic agriculture. Cassava, calamansi, colored rice, root crops and vegetables were major organic commodities produced. The municipality of Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur was the leading municipality, hence it is known and awarded as an organic municipality by International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM). A total of 10,000 farmers were reported practicing organic farming in the region. However, these reports are subject for validation and will be served as data for the first cycle of RMES implementation.
For 2016, a total of four (4) hand tractors, four (4) shredders and four (4) cultivators were distributed to registered POs and IPs in support to the mechanization plan of the program. There are also on-going constructions of greenhouse, animal housing and mushroom spawn laboratory.
Part of the Production Support Services of the program was the distribution of the following: organic rice seeds, corn and vegetables, organic fertilizers (Vermicast) , African Night Crawler (ANC), goats, and chicken to the different deserving recipients in the region.
Last May 2016, the program conducted the Regional Search for the Organic Agriculture Achievers’ Award to give recognition to province/municipalities, farmers and extension workers that are organic advocates. The region was able to give recognition to the Province of Zamboanga del Sur as Organic Outstanding Province, Mr. Noel Penaloza, outstanding provincial organic focal, Ms. Felicitas Bolatete, outstanding municipal organic focal, Ms. Irene Cabo, outstanding organic extension worker, Rosenda Consolacion, outstanding individual organic farmer and KASAMMAKA as outstanding organic small farmer group. Awarding was done last December 21, 2016 at Hotel Guillermo, Pagadian City.
In line with the celebration of the organic agriculture month, active organic advocates, farmers, academe, IPs, entrepreneurs, processors and practitioners gathered last November 3-4, 2016 during the Regional Organic Agriculture Congress in Zamboanga City. The purpose of which were the following: 1. Drafting of resolution for the OAP in the Region of which was submitted to the NOAP; and 2. Clustering of Practitioners by province to facilitate the availing of 3rd Party certification.
Last November 22-25, 2016, 13th National Organic Agriculture Congress was conducted in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. Practitioners, academes, IPs entrepreneurs, processors and other stakeholders gathered in the event. Organic products, technologies and the latest updates in OA far across the country were being showcased that served as not only as an inspiration but also an eye opener to our organic farmers and stakeholders to strengthen their advocacy on organic agriculture. Launching and cooking contest of slow food products was undertaken during the 13th NOAC. A total of forty (40) participants from the region attended the said event.
Another highlights of accomplishment were the conduct of pre-assessment of the 3rd party certification subsidy applicants to ensure compliance based on the Philippine National Standards for Organic Agriculture. Among these farms are Saniel Integrated Farm in Mahayag, Zamboanga del Sur, Rivas Calamansi Farm in Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay and Sunshine World College in Pagadian City.
As of December 8, 2016 the financial accomplishment of the program was 51% fund obligation and 78% disbursement.