Tubungan gets national award on organic agriculture

The Municipality of Tubungan, Iloilo was recognized by the Department of Agriculture (DA) as the 2015 national outstanding organic agriculture municipality during the 12th National Organic Agriculture Congress held at SMX Convention Center, Bacolod City, November 25 to 27.

Tubungan Mayor Vicente Gargaritano, Jr. thanked the Department for enabling their successful organic ventures which started in 2002.

“Hindi po mararating ng bayan namin ang tagumpay na ito kung hindi dahil sa tulong ng Department of Agriculture,” he told Sec. Alcala.

The DA provided several organic agriculture interventions to the municipality such as the Php750, 000.00 worth of mass production of organic fertilizer project consists of a wood vinegar and vermicomposting facilities as well as the conduct of season-long training on organic vegetable production, demo garden and field day.

Then in 2013, the Agri Pinoy Rice Program funded Php1.6 million worth of seed bank and plant nursery for the municipality of Tubungan. Other projects include the Php300,000.00 worth of Bottoms Up Budgeting Enhancement Program for Vegetable Growers of Tubungan, Php150,000.00 worth of organic model farm Palayamanan, construction of a farmers’ learning center on organic farming with nurseries of indigenous trees and fruits; 13 units of mini- shredders, Php52 million worth of farm-to-market road project, 43 units of small farm reservoirs,10 irrigation water sources, 5 units of multi-purpose drying pavement, 5 units of palay sheds, organic corn mill from PhilMech and National Organic Agriculture Board, and 5 units of greenhouses for the high value crops and vegetables.

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Mayor Gargaritano was also thankful for the public-private partnership with the local government to the Tubungan Federation of Organic Farmers Assciation, Inc., DA assistance to all the public elementary and high schools, and the Community Participatory Action Research (CPAR) of the department.

“This award will inspire us to further enhance the programs of organic agriculture in our municipality. Starting 2016, the LGU of Tubungan will allocate not less than P0.5 million for the improvement of organic agriculture program implementations in their town,” he added.

Along with Tubungan, Sec. Alcala also commended the efforts of the other top performers in the seven categories. The province of Aurora for the provincial category, Engr. Noralyn Busa of Nueva Viscaya as outstanding provincial focal person, Sienna C. Sombrero of Camarines Sur as outstanding municipal focal person, Dinia C. Acero of Laguna as outstanding agricultural extension worker, Rogel A. Marsan of La Trinindad, Benguet as outstanding small individual organic farmer, La Trinidad Multi-purpose Cooperative for the farmers’ group category, and the Avila Family of Camarines Sur as organic farming family.

Mario Avila, in his testimony, said that through the DA’s training on organic crop diversification, he was able to increase his income, provide the needs of his family and give his children access to education. He added that he is imparting to his fellow farmers the skills and experiences he obtained from the various trainings on organic farming that he attended.

“Ang mga miyembro ng samahan namin ay may kanya-kanyang mga organic farms sa ngayon. Noon pangarap ko lang tumama sa lotto upang makatikim ng ginhawa sa buhay, hindi ko alam na dahil sa pagsasaka ay makakatanggap po kami ng malaking premyo na ni sa pangarap ay hindi ko naisip. Ang aking partido, gusto ko organiko,” pointed out Avila.

As co-author of the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, Sec. Alcala was pleased for the rapid development of organic farming industry in the country “Habang dumarami ang naniniwala, habang dumarami ang mga nasa samahan, mas maraming challenges. Ngunit sa pangunguna ng NOAB, ako ay naniniwala na patuloy itong lalaki, aasenso at lalo’t higit hindi lang tayo aasa sa lotto. Kikita po ang mga magsasaka na umaasa sa organikong pamamaraan.”

Sec. Alcala together with Undersecretary Emerson U. Palad, National Organic Agriculture Program coordinator Elsa A. Parot, and Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo G. Marañon, Jr. turned over the certificates of recognition and cash prizes to the eight awardees.

Sec. Alcala told the representatives of the province of Aurora and the municipality of Tubungan to prepare project proposals on organic agriculture worth Php5 million each.

This recent National Organic Agriculture Achievers Awards (NOAAA) is the third year of recognizing the country’s best performers in the implementation of organic agriculture program.

Usec. Palad said, “the NOAAA was formerly called as the LGU awards which started even before the passing of the Republic Act 10068. It seeks to expand the number of groups, individuals and LGUs embracing organic farming.” [via DA RAFID]

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