In a public press conference on November 5, Department of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap committed to convert 400,000 hectares of ricelands in the Philippines — 10% of the total — to organic production. He also signed a memorandum of agreement with the Go Organic Movement to pilot the program in six cities/towns for P20 million.
This was a historic moment. No DA secretary in the past has ever dared to defy the chemical industry lobby. Secretary Yap deserves the public’s full support for this organic conversion program. Once realized, this will make the Philippines the leading producer of organic rice in Asia, and perhaps the world.
One of the Secretary’s commitment was to promote the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) among farmers. With this decision, the Philippines joins many other rice-producing countries who have already gone into SRI in a big way, including India, Indonesia, China, Cambodia, Nepal and so on.
I have explained in an earlier post how SRI can bring a whole range of benefits to farmers, their families, to consumers and to the environment.