March 4, 2019, The Negros Island Organic Producers Association (NIOPA) became the first organization to have been able to avail the 3rd Party Organic Certification Assistance in Western Visayas. The third party certification means that an independent organization has reviewed all process with regards to production as in the case of organic produce, and has independently determined that the final product complies with specific standards for safety, quality and efficiency.
The Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP) awarded an organic certificate to NIOPA for their 26.70 hectares of Palay and 1.15 hectares of assorted vegetables and pineapple to respective 20 farmers and 5 farm members. OCCP, is an inspection and certification body established as a distinct and independent organization to comply with ISO 17065 requirements and persistently advocates for the conducts of trainings on organic farming and organic certification. The cost for certification requiring an improved facilities and management techniques in the part of the farmers is one of the most critical challenges faced by organic agriculture. However, through the continuous effort of concerned regional field offices, implementing agencies, and program coordinators such as the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP), some interventions are being made to help farmers ease their way to transition to an organic system of production.
NIOPA extend its milestone to Ms. Corazon Gallon, Romel and Ana of the provincial office of Negros Occidental and Mr. Jennito Balairos, APCO/Division chief and the Regional Pre assessment Team Members. Ms. Virgna Layson, chairman of the Secretariat Committee, Andrew Palomar, Ms. Leilani and Ramona Limpin, the OCCP Chief Executive Officer.
Today, the challenge of organic certification is alleviated by Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS), which are locally focused quality assurance systems. Known to certify operators, mainly producers, based on the active participation of local stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange. Its primary purpose is to serve as a certification and inspection body for food and food products and agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticide, feeds etc. to provide for the ever growing agriculture industry and consumers of certified products (OOCP, 2019).