by Marielle Louise Obrero Ventura
On July 8, 2016, members of the Los Baños Association of Fruit and Vegetable Growers gathered for their first general assembly meeting for the approval of their constitution and by-laws
The association is a part of the Laguna Organic Practitioners Federation (LOPF), that helps promote organic agriculture in Laguna. The farmers’ association was formed under the project the joint project of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) and the Los Baños local government unit (LGU) entitled Gender–Responsive Organic Vegetable Production Livelihood Enterprise for Low-Income Communities of Los Baños, Laguna.
The members of the association is composed of the project cooperators of the PCAARRD-LB LGU project. The initiative to organize the project cooperators into a farmers’ association aims to “strengthen [the project cooperators’] marketing and bargaining power in the local market” and be an advocate of organic farming to other people, especially to those in their own barangays.
It was on April 29, 2016 when the association was officially registered in the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). However, it was in November 26, 2015 when the association held its first election of officers. The following are the names of the elected officers:
President: Vitaliano Peñalver
Vice-President: Bernardino Regis
Secretary: 1. Ma Emily Alforja
Treasurer: Carmelita Gonzales
Auditor: 1. Benedicta Badillo
I.O.: 1. Bernardo Carpio
The 2nd General Assembly of the association is currently being planned. But the tentative date is on October 26, 2016, according to Mrs. Emily Alforja, secretary of the said association.
Spearheaded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) together with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Los Baños, Laguna, and the Bureau of Plant Industry-Los Baños National Crops Research and Development Center (BPI-LBNCRDC), the project on Gender–Responsive Organic Vegetable Production Livelihood Enterprise for Low-Income Communities of Los Baños, Laguna focuses on economic empowerment of women and men by improving their productivity through Science and Technology.
The project adopts to the R.A. 10068, also known as the “Organic Agriculture Act of 2010”. It started last July 2015 and is now on its Phase 2, which currently includes 7 barangays:
- Bambang, which specializes in okra, eggplant, tomato and nut;
- Malinta for kangkong, taro, and pechay;
- Bagong Silang for lettuce and ampalaya;
- Timugan for sitaw;
- Bayog which specializes in upo, patola, and squash;
- Tuntungin-Putho; and
The Phase 1 of the project ended on June 2016, wherein 4 barangays where involved: Tuntungin Putho, Maahas, Timugan and Bagong Silang. Together, the Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project has already planted different types of organic vegetables in aggregate land area of 7.7 hectares. And because of this, it has sustained marketing of organic vegetables through the Friday organic market of Los Baños municipality, Herb Republic Restaurant, and regular organic trade fairs in the province and university.
The project has also collected sex disaggregated data and gender-related information such as gender-norms, roles, gender-issues, and project interventions. According to Ms. Jingle Neri Amoloza, a Municipal Agricultural Technologist, an example of this is showing that there are males tasks that the females can also do, like plowing the lands that they are going to use.
The 17-month project whose target beneficiaries are the men-and-women-farmer-cooperators of Los Baños, Laguna has already capacitated 83 females and 62 males on organic seed production, organic vegetable production, postharvest and marketing, vermi-composting, preparation of natural farm inputs, and farm record keeping, and has also provided technological information, technical assistance, and other project resources to 134 females and 104 males. The said beneficiaries are considered to live below the poverty threshold, and are also members of the Los Baños Association of Fruit and Vegetable Growers.
The project is set to end on December 2016.