(Second of two parts)
From 2022, following the Supreme Court ruling in the Mandanas case, LGU’s share in national tax revenue will increase by 27%. LGUs are now expected to spend at least 10 percent of their increase in Internal Income Allocation (IRA) on agriculture and fisheries programs, with at least a quarter of the IRA going to organic farming.
Another equally important need of farming communities is the acquisition of basic equipment, tools and suitable small machines. Organic farming is labor intensive. To alleviate agricultural labor, each village must have a foundry workshop so that farmers can repair, improve and even locally manufacture agricultural tools and equipment. Unfortunately, many farmers have neglected the traditional cultivation of healthy vegetables. The DA and LGU should relaunch “Bahay Kubo Cropping” and provide farmers with plant material and training. Farmers should have livestock or carabaos to serve as agricultural energy and as a source of manure for composting. An appropriate program of grants and / or credit support will encourage these actions.
The third crucial factor is a significant investment in research, development and extension (RD&E) on biological conversion technologies, which addresses the transition processes and procedures to facilitate entry into the conversion stage (zero chemical inputs). ). Pure and adaptive research on organic agriculture in transition also needs funding from DA and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Additionally, motivating farmers to switch to organic farming requires a consumer education campaign on the benefits of organic products. Consumers need to regain awareness of the real costs of chemical agriculture to our health and our global ecosystem.
This requires the Planetary Health Diet (PHD), which consists of foods that are safe and beneficial to health, primarily based on vegetables, fruits, herbs, legumes, and green salads. We must be guided by the basic principles of organic farming (health, ecology, care and equity).
Conscious consumers must demand healthy and safe foods that will lead to changes on the supply side (more farmers raising crops and animals organically).
A vigorous national campaign must target government, educational institutions and other food consuming institutions. The Sagip Saka Law allows government agencies, including LGUs, to directly source organic products during disasters or pandemics for feeding programs for schoolchildren, the poor, the elderly and the disabled. Commercial companies can also provide their employees with organically grown food.
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Leonardo Montemayor is a former secretary of agriculture and currently chairman of the board of the Federation of Free Farmers. Teodoro Mendoza is a retired professor from UP Los Baños and an expert in organic farming systems. Pablito Villegas owns and operates an organic and eco-tourism farm in Malvar, Batangas. – Leonardo Q. Montemayor, Teodoro C. Mendoza and Pablito M. Villegas