Teresa Ellera-Dulla, Sun.Star Bacolod, 6 August 2011
Agriculture Secretary Proseso Alcala is pushing the local farmers to go organic, as there is now a great demand for organic products, especially organic muscovado.
“Right now while we still have time, I am encouraging the sugar planters to slowly convert into organic farming because there is now a bigger demand in Europe for our organic muscovado,” Alcala said Friday.
He pointed out that going organic is one way that farmers can survive when the zero tariff on sugar comes year 2015.
“In other countries, they offer a big subsidy for their farmers. How can we compete if our government does not give such support and the farmers are doing things on their own for their farming? We cannot compete,” he added.
“So the best chance that we could have is if we could convert our farmers into organic farming because this is in demand. We will concentrate on organic muscovado which is having a good price now,” he informed the farmers.
“Organic fertilizer is also cheaper than the conventional fertilizers which are petroleum-based and imported from other countries. If the farmers will be taught to make their own fertilizers, the community will enjoy their gains,” Alcala added.
He said that, locally, there is also a good demand for organic products.
Farmers need not aim to market these organic products abroad because there is also a market for such products here, according to Alcala.
Right now in the country, about 20 to 25 percent of the farmers are already into organic farming. He also revealed that, personally, he is practicing organic farming.
“When we started five years ago, only about five percent of us were into organic farming. Right now, the number of farmers turning organic continues to grow,” he said.
The country, he said, is now exporting organic products to Singapore, Japan and Hongkong. In fact, he said, he was scheduled last night for a meeting with a Singapore-based group who wants to import organic vegetables from the Philippines.
Alcala was in the province on Friday for the launching and distribution of insurance certificates of the Negros First Universal Crop Insurance Program of the Department of Agriculture, Provincial Government of Negros Occidental and the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation.
Meanwhile, the secretary also said there is a future for the bio-ethanol industry in the country.
This as he confirmed that he has submitted proposals to protect and favor the bio-ethanol industry in the country.
He disclosed that his proposal has already gone through the Cabinet level and is now under review by the Technical Working Group created by the President along with the Department of Finance headed by Secretary Cesar Purisima.
“It will then be submitted to the President for final approval”, he added.
“We will produce bio-ethanol in areas where its production will not compete with food demands. These are new areas,” Alcala said.
“I am the head of DA and I have the full trust of the President. The technical working group was created to validate the data to make sure that the government comes up with the right decision,” he explained.
He stressed that the bio-ethanol industry is not being ignored by the Aquino administration.
The lack of support of the government was reportedly the reason for the closing of the San Carlos bio-ethanol plant.
“The reason for the closedown could be the high price of sugar for human consumption,” he said.