Cebu province is going organic!

I just learned some good news from SRI-Pilipinas trainor Salvio Makinano, who is based in Central Visayas. Governor Gwen Garcia of Cebu wants her province to go organic. She apparently made her decision after visiting an organic farm in Borbon, Cebu and seeing how organic farming can be economically viable for the farmer, healthy for the consumer and friendly to the environment. Salvio, who conducts regular trainings on the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), Korean Nature Farming, biodynamic farming and other sustainable farming systems through the Visayas, heard it straight from the governor herself.

If Gov. Garcia formalizes her intention and it is adopted by the provincial government of Cebu, her island province will be following the pioneering lead of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental, whose governors (former Governor now Congressman George Arnaiz and Governor Joseph Marañon) signed a few years back a memorandum of agreement to turn the whole island of Negros into an organic island.

With three of the Philippines’ 89 provinces committing to go organic, and the Department of Agriculture publicly committing to convert 10% of the country’s ricelands to organic methods, we can see the balance of policy-making now starting to make a move towards the organic side.

Organic practitioners and advocates need to push even harder, and convince more municipal mayors and provincial governors to commit to the organic way.

A public commitment, backed up by strong legislative measures, is the first step. This should be followed by a clear budgetary commitments, that should go to an organic program ran by groups with proven track records in organic implementation.

With release by Secretary Arthur Yap of P20 million pesos for a pilot organic program in seven Luzon towns, the Department of Agriculture has taken the second step.

These recent developments inspires us to work even harder.

We look forward to the day when we can declare the entire Philippines an organic country, where organic methods are the default methods.

It may be unrealistic to expect the government to ban chemical fertilizers and pesticides. But a government that is truly serious about supporting organic agriculture should impose mandatory testing and labelling requirements on farmers and food producers who use non-organic inputs and sell non-organic products to the public. It is the logical legislative expression of the “polluter pays” principle. Such a measure will tilt the balance further in favor of organics, by reversing the bias of the economic system in favor of organics.

With the small steps being taken today by pioneering officials in local governments and national government agencies, the leap to become an organic nation is becoming a real possibility.

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