Senator Cynthia Villar expressed gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte who signed into law Republic Act (RA) 11511 last December 23, a measure that seeks to strengthen organic agriculture in the Philippines. The legislative measure was principally authored and sponsored by Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.
RA 11511amends RA 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 and puts in place a more affordable and accessible system of certifying organic products, the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS). This is an alternative to third-party certification, which ranges from P100,000 to P120,000 per crop compared to only between PhP600 to PhP2,000 under the new PGS.
The new organic law will benefit over 165,000 organic farming practitioners in the Philippines, majority of which are smallholder farmers. According to Villar, it is important for small farmers to be able to afford organic certification because they are the major force in the country’s agriculture sector.
“RA 11511 will provide for a more affordable system of organic certification, which will allow small farmers to get the certification they need. The exorbitant cost in the past prevented small farmers from practicing organic farming and also made organic products expensive for many Filipinos,” Villar added.
The new law, according to Villar, provides the impetus in further growing organic agriculture in the country. It will greatly benefit the environment since organic farming is eco-friendly as it promotes the use of natural resources and inputs like organic fertilizer. The senator has been promoting the composting of kitchen and garden wastes into organic fertilizer that farmers can produce on their own, instead of buying this in the market.
RA 11511 also creates the National Organic Agriculture Program-National Program Coordinating Office (NOAP-NPCO) to manage the effective implementation of the National Organic Agriculture Program, and will serve as a planning, secretariat and coordinating office of the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB).
The new law also restructures, strengthens, and empowers the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS), which will provide technical assistance to the NOAB and the NOAP-NPCO.