Documentation and Assessment of Socio-Cultural Aspects of Organic Agriculture
The socio-cultural aspects of organic agriculture (OA) in the nine provinces in the Philippines-Tarlac, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Bukidnon and Davao was documented and assessed based on the data gathered from FG, KH and survey. There were 11 focus groups conducted among the representatives of various OA farming organizations, while there were 37 interviews to various experts; farmers, technician, traders, representatives of NGOs and LGUs. In the survey, gender relations, labor dynamic and market systems, perceived attitudes on the social cost and benefits of organic agriculture to the farmers were determined.
The findings showed that OA in the nine provinces started between 1960 and 1980. It was the known as natural farming. The active promotion of OA was after the promulgation of Republic Act 10068 or “Organic Agriculture Act of the Philippines”. It was promoted thru conduct of trainings, meeting, lectures, farm visits and fora that are centered on the production of organic fertilizers (concoctions), pesticides and vermicompost. The motivating factor for conversion to OA is mainly for economic, health and environmental reasons.
OA was also found to be a family activity where members are involved from land preparation to marketing. The farmers make their own fertilizers using a variety of techniques such as composting vermicomposting, bokashi using microorganisms (IMO, FM) and making connections (folian and liquid fertilizers). There were also some who practice integrated farming, which involves a combination of crops, vegetables, fruits, herbs, fish and livestock, and vermicast. Organic products are typically sold farmers’ neighbors, direct buyers, organic farmers’ organization and middlemen. Some products are also sold the local public markets and supermarkets.
The challenges encountered by organic farmers are related to organic farming operations, government support and organic certification. Though certification is deemed important to farmers for it guarantees that products are truly organic, they suggest the use of Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) instead of the institutional certification.
The findings of the study can be used to craft policies on marketing of organic products. Organic agriculture is a way of life, and it is means to promote good health, to attain sustainable income for the farmers and to achieve quality environment.