by Nykyle Patricia Buenviaje, Renz Louie Celeridad, and Victorena Diesta
The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, in partnership with the Region IV-A Agricultural Training Institute, held the first Laguna Organic Agriculture Congress at the Cultural Center of Sta. Cruz on October 28-30.
The organic agriculture congress, themed “Sa Organiko Panalo Tayo, Kaya’t Lagunenyo para sa iyo ito,” was open to all offices, departments, organizations, and individuals who were interested in organic agriculture — a “natural” way of growing crops, vegetables, and other agricultural products.
According to Lydia Estrada, the Laguna assistant provincial agriculturist, organic agriculture aims to create a farming system that will grow various chemical-free crops. The promotion of organic agriculture, such as holding the congress, is in line with Republic Act (RA) No. 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, which mandates the state to “promote, propagate, develop further, and implement the practice of organic agriculture in the Philippines.”
The organic agriculture congress also aimed to help address gender awareness issues, recognizing the need to change the traditional belief that farming is only for men and to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor through technology transfer.
Laguna cities and municipalities took part in the provincial congress on organic agriculture. The local government unit (LGU) of Los Baños was represented by the Gender and Development (GAD) Office, the implementing agency for the organic agriculture component of the gender-sensitive livelihood project between the LGU Los Baños and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).
From the PhP 4.6 million project “Enhancing Gender-Sensitive Sustainable Agriculture and Aquatic Science and Technology (S&T)-based Livelihood Enterprises in Los Baños”, PhP 2.2 million was allotted for organic agriculture projects.
The implementation of the organic agriculture component started in March and covered five barangays, namely: Bagong Silang, Timugan, Maahas, Tuntungin-Putho, and Lalakay. According to Karen Lagat-Mercado, head of the Los Baños GAD Office, their unit started the project implementation by conducting seminars about organic agriculture in the five barangays in partnership with PCAARRD. These seminars were followed by trainings for the farmer cooperators.
According to Mercado, the organic agriculture project not only provided additional source of income for the cooperators, it also helped the women – especially the housewives – develop greater confidence, build their self-esteem, and become more independent. With their own earnings, the women now depend less on their husbands’ income.
Through the congress, Los Baños was able to showcase organic produce from the farmer-cooperator and present the LGU Los Baños-PCAARRD collaboration to representatives of various cities and municipalities in Laguna.
For more updates on the LGU Los Baños-PCAARRD project, visit the Gender Sensitive Organic Vegetable Prod’n for Low-income Communities of LB Facebook CommunityPage.