Support snowballs for organic farming

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Thursday, December 15, 2011


“THE organic farming movement is moving very fast. Support for it is snowballing,” said Governor Alfredo G. Marañon Jr. Wednesday during the opening of Fresh Start organic store at Robinsons CityWalk where he led the ribbon-cutting rites.

Marañon, one of the staunchest organic farming advocates in the country who won numerous accolades for his advocacy here and abroad, cited that the opening of this organic store at a high-end mall is the fruit of the labor for an organic Negros island which was started in 2005.

He narrated that, at the start, the movement was slow to attract believers. But when crops suffered from diseases brought by excessive use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, the farmers turned a second look at organic farming.

Governor Alfredo G. Marañon, Jr. (2nd from R) led the ribbon cutting during Wednesday’s opening at Robinsons Place of Fresh Start Organics, an organic food store of organic farming advocate Ramon Uy, Jr. (L).
Governor Alfredo G. Marañon, Jr. (2nd from R) led the ribbon cutting during Wednesday’s opening at Robinsons Place of Fresh Start Organics, an organic food store of organic farming advocate Ramon Uy, Jr. (L). (Gilbur L. Guarte)

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“Organic farming is really suited for our small farmers. We need not buy imported materials; we can produce the fertilizer right here,” he pointed out.

Since there is no need for imported materials, the money stays in the province and circulates here, thereby enlivening the local economy, expounded the governor.

“On December 16 to 20, the province will be holding the Organic Food Festival at the Capitol grounds,” Marañon said. “World-renowned chefs will be coming here to source out organic food for their kitchens.”

More than one hundred exhibitors are expected to showcase their wares in the festival.

Most noteworthy for this year’s edition is the participation of exhibitors from Manila and Cebu.

“That’s an indication that support for organic farming is snowballing in the country,” pointed out Marañon.

Promoting organic farming thru marketing

Meanwhile, Fresh Start owner Ramon “Chin-Chin” Uy Jr. bared that the store is the first store that can be considered as a mini-grocery of organic products.

“We have all organic products that are produced here in Negros Occidental. We have partnered with ONOPRA (Organik na Negros! Organic Producers and Retailers Association). We buy their produce at a higher price. We market these products and others are being repacked,” Uy said.

Fresh Start organic and natural store offers a long list of organic products ranging from specialty greens, fresh and dried herbs, fruits, vegetables, rice, coffee, sweeteners, personal care products, healthy beverages, fresh and handmade piaya, hot chocolate from real cacao, yogurts and its latest addition, the mozzarella cheese.

“The price is competitive. In fact we have a bulk section where one can buy in bulk without the burden of packaging cost,” he said.

“We send the same products to Cebu, Manila and other places that we have outlets,” he said.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, he said. The people can now have an alternative from what is being offered at the grocery stores and supermarkets, he said.

They decided to put up the first store here because they also started to operate an organic vegetable kiosk here at Robinsons.

They still have kiosks at Robinsons but planned to branch out in all major cities in the country with the same set up.

“We train people on this business so that we can transfer the technology and help others earn a living,” he said.

Uy said his store sells a wide variety of certified organic, natural, healthy, artisanal, and eco-friendly products produced locally in partnership with small organic farming communities.

In 2005, Fresh Start Organics started in a 2500-square meter area, converting waste into organic fertilizer. Today, it operates several organic farms, food and personal care production facility, and marketing and distribution of organic and natural products.

“This was made possible through our partnerships with organic farmers, NGOs and the Provincial Government,” he said.

Search on for ‘The Outstanding Students’

The Junior Chamber International Philippines – Bacolod (Bacolod Jaycees, Inc.) has once again launched the search for “The Outstanding Students” (THOS) 2012 to honor outstanding graduating campus leaders in the province.

A flagship project of the Bacolod Jaycees which has been running for more than 40 years now, the prestigious THOS Awards seeks to commend graduating student leaders who excel in campus leadership, academic achievement, community involvement, hard work and integrity, among others.

JCI Member Wilson Gamboa, Jr. disclosed that the club is the only leadership training organization in the country.

“We are a training university for young leaders. We empower young people to discover themselves,” stressed Gamboa.

JCI Member Boyet Maghari added that, through the THOS Awards, the club gives recognition to student leaders, a recognition which can also give them a boost in the competition for honors in their respective schools.

The search is divided into two categories – high school and college. A panel will screen the top ten nominees for each category. Out of the ten finalists, the judges will select the winners.

Criteria and mechanics for the search were already communicated to schools all over the province as early as July. Deadline for submission of nominees is 5 p.m. tomorrow either to THOS 2012 Project Chair JCI Member Adonairam Katapia (c/o Red Cross Neg. Occ. – Bacolod Chapter, 10th Lacson St., Bacolod City) or the JCI-Bacolod Secretariat (c/o AMEGO & Associates Law Office, Ground Floor, CIT Bldg, Lacson-Luzuriaga Sts., Bacolod City).

Preliminary screening of nominees will be on January 7, 2012.

An innovation in this year’s edition is the Leadership Assembly slated January 21, 2012 where the nominees will undergo activities which can showcase their leadership skills and display their attitudes in life.

Finalist forum is scheduled on January 22, 2012 while the awarding of winners will be on February 4, 2012.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 15, 2011.

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