By Vishia Mae Tolcidas
Regional Applied Communications Group (RACG)
FITS OPA Negros Occidental
When consumers buy products that are certified organic, they get more value for their money and are protected against fake organic products.
This is according to Organic Guarantee Officer Robert Gasparillo of the Negros Island Organic Certification Services (NICERT) during the first Regional Techno Gabay Summit and TechnoMart at the Amigo Plaza Hall in Iloilo City recently.
The Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC), techno summit's convener, deemed organic product certification important to its members because it serves as tool in the commercialization of science-and-technology-based products.
SWEET FOR MY SWEET, SUGAR FOR MY HONEYAccording to WESVARRDEC Director Joseph Edward Idemne, the consortium will push for the certification of Antique’s muscovado sugar this year. Photo shows Hamungaya muscovado represented here by Ms. Joyce Pachoco during the WESVARRDEC TG Summit.
The WESVARRDEC summit was attended by Magsasaka Siyentista (farmer scientists), members of colleges and universities, and representatives of the Farmers’ Information and Technology Services (FITS) Centers in Western Visayas.
According to Gasparillo, producers likewise benefit from organic certification because they could already sell their products at premium prices in both local and international markets. Certified-organic products enjoy brisk sales in Metro Manila, Europe, Canada, Japan and the US because they are healthy and chemical-free.
Gasparillo said small farmers like the muscovado producers of Antique are a priority of NICERT. “They could avail themselves of funds under the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 which provides for 900 million pesos for the first two years of implementation,” he said.
Organic certification covers the whole production process based on documents and field visits, and is cost-efficient because it is partly subsidized by the Negros Occidental Provincial Government.
Like WESVARRDEC and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCARRD-DOST), NICERT assists clients in the technology transfer and promotion of their certified products.
Established in 2007, NICERT has already certified the products of 20 individuals, smallholder groups and firms from Negros, Iloilo and Cebu. These products include fertilizers, vegetables, herbs, root crops, fruits, grains, coffee, sugarcane, meat and poultry, aquaculture, and processed foods.
An independent, third-party organic certification body that is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and member of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), NICERT is an offshoot of sustainable agriculture and rural development initiatives geared towards making Negros Island the Organic Food Bowl of Asia.