Organic food prices are more stable now than food produced under conventional farming, according to an organic farmer from Tayabas, Quezon.
Alicia Valdoria, organic farmer from Tayabas, Quezon, said during a Tugon Kabuhayan briefing on Monday, Nov. 29, that although organic food products are more costly, their prices are much stable than the ones produced under the traditional farming method.
“Knowing the process, it’s harder than the conventional farming. This is why we can’t plant a lot in order to sustain production and this is why it’s more costly. But in terms of prices, they are steady. For instance, a kilo of [organic] cabbage is P200 per kilogram and it stays that way even if the average price of cabbage increases in the market. The price movement is much steadier,” Valdoria told reporters.
The reason for this is because organic farmers already have a secured market, which is mostly high-end, she added. Still, Valdoria said there is now a growing demand for organic food products in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the supply has remained limited.
To address the gap in supply and demand, organic farmers are now working closely with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the local government units (LGUs) to come up with some sort of incentive for them.
At the same time, Valdoria said they reach out to farmers to convince them to shift into organic practices.
“The [land] conversion period from conventional to organic farming takes a long time that is why some farmers always go back to conventional farming. This is why we are thinking of ways to provide some sort of a subsidy for farmers who shift into organic farming,” she further said.
The Philippine government is also promoting organic farming. In June, the DA launched the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), which is the key feature of the Republic Act (RA) No. 11511, an act amending the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 or RA 10068.
“Made possible by the support of our legislators, RA 11511 opened opportunities for our small farmers and fisherfolk who want a sustainable and environment-friendly organic practice through PGS,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.
As defined in the new act, the PGS refers to a locally focused quality assurance system, which is developed and practiced by people who are actually engaged in organic agriculture.
Built on a foundation of trust, social network, and knowledge exchange, the system is used to certify producers and farmers as actual and active organic agriculture practitioners and serve as an alternative to third-party certification.
“The PGS will significantly reduce the cost of maintaining organic certification and actively involve our small farmers and fisherfolk with like-minded stakeholders and advocates of organic agriculture by maintaining the integrity of organic products available in the market,” Dar said.
He added that the new system also directly contributes to the farm consolidation thrust of DA and will increase the local availability of certified organic products of small and medium farmers. Thus, large-scale organic producers could shift to export markets.
“We need to ensure that small organic farmers and fisherfolk are not passive participants. We need to actively engage them in the implementation and give due recognition to their experience and expertise,” Dar said.