Istambay sa Mindanao

Personal blog of MindaNews' Walter I. Balane. Visit www.mindanews.com for more news, views and information on Mindanao.

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Location: Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines

I'm Walter Balane. I am a journalist based in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Philippines. I initiated the group called Atong Press (www.atongpress.ning.com) for press freedom and responsibility and media education in Bukidnon.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

NEWS: Valencia City aims to become RP's "organic rice capital"

ByWalter I. Balane / Mindanews / 25 October 2004

DAVAO CITY ­- Valencia City in Bukidnon is being envisioned to become the country's "organic rice capital" through a project jointly undertaken by a funding network, an NGO and the local government, a move which is seen to attract more farmers to go into organic or chemical-free rice farming and to “restore fertility of soil and productivity in the city.”

Valencia City is Bukidnon’s agriculture and commercial center. The local government packages the city as the “City of Golden Harvest.”

The P4.53-million project of the Asia Japan Partnership Network, the city government and the Philippine Development Assistance Program (PDAP) spans 18 months in the areas of institution-building initiatives and providing infrastructure to around 75 farmers in three pilot barangays namely, Sinayawan, Kahaponan and Tongantongan.

But city agriculture officer Gerzon Salvan told MindaNews the plan is still “a dream long way to go.”
“To be the organic rice capital, we must have majority of our farmers into organic rice. That is at least 5,000 hectares planted to rice the organic way," he said.

He said that right now there are no more than 100 hectares where rice is grown organically. He also said only a very few farmers are recognized as “organic rice farmers.”

He said it would take them five more years before 5,000 hectares of rice farms in the city would be planted with organic varieties. The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is capable of irrigating 12,000 hectares of land in Valencia.

A series of consultations resulted in the formulation of the site development plan for the project which will be implemented from October 2004-March 2006.

The consultations were attended by barangay councils, NGOs, farmers groups, cooperatives, the Social Action Center and other organizations.

In a press release, PDAP said the city government of Valencia will support the installation of an organic rice processing center, warehouse, dryer, rice mill and other facilities for the organic rice technology.
PDAP, however, underscored the need for the farmers in the pilot areas to pass through a certification process in order for them to produce quality organic rice.

Meanwhile, the Organic Rice Industry Technical Working Group announced today it will hold a Visayas-Mindanao consultation on Developing National Standard on Organic Rice in Makilala, North Cotabato on October 28-29. The consultation follows a similar one held in Luzon earlier this month.

Organized by the Department of Agriculture ­ Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards (DA-BAFPS), the consultation will gather rice farmers, NGOs and people's organizations and “transform the traditional and bureaucratic way of developing policies."

BAFPS is now drafting a food standard in compliance with standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) to strengthen organic rice’s export potential.

The Philippines is already an exporter of organic rice, 25 metric tons of which has been sold to Switzerland by a cooperative in Negros Occidental.
Organic rice farming is a form of sustainable agriculture systems, considered by DA as the way to go in Philippine agriculture.

But according to DA, only about 500 hectares is planted to organic rice in the country. (MindaNews)

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