Rising to the challenge

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014


TRIVIA on the Choose Philippines website: Negros Occidental is known as the “Sugarbowl of the Philippines.” The sugar industry is the lifeblood of Negros Occidental’s economy and produces 60 percent of the country’s sugar. Panaad is a Hiligaynon word for “pledge” or “vow.”

The province is keeping that promise. But it’s repackaging itself from “sugarbowl” to a more environmental-friendly future. The United Nations’ call of the time to face climate change is to build a global green economy.

A pillar of that global challenge is to build and strengthen organic agriculture.

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Panaad 2014 is another event to showcase how the province is in the lead pack of provinces in building the green economy. In fact, the theme for 2014 is “Organik na Negros: Rising to the Challenge of Globalization in 2015.”

There were many who joined Panaad’s organic village that there were some producers and support organizations who were unable to take part.

Most participants are from the usual members of the Organik na Negros! Organic Producers and Retailers Association (Onopra) but I saw during the opening new players on the organic block.

One of them is the Negros First Army Wellness Farm. Manning the tent are soldiers and the (BS) balik-sibilyans of the 303rd Infantry Brigade. The BS farmers are former NPA guerillas who traded swords into plowshares.

The tarps surrounding their tent showcase an impressive integrated farm system at the 24-hectare Camp Maj. Nelson Gerona in Murcia, Negros Occidental. Raised rows of organic vegetables – the product of private-public-civil society cooperation – helped many of the soldiers to return to their roots: farming.

Major Nelson Gerona in heaven would be pleased to see his dream come true. Time and again, Nelson told me he wanted to become a gentleman organic farmer in Iloilo when he retires.

Death overtook his dream, but his dream lives on in Col. Jon Aying. Jon told me he read several organic books which he bought in Booksale. Ironically, he practiced what Karl Marx preached, that is, to turn theory into a material productive force.

Welcome to the sustainable development world, Jon. May we see more of these integrated organic farms in our hinterlands. Let us promote sustainable mountain development, as envisioned in Chapter 13 of the United Nations Agenda 21.

An important feature of building the green economy is to promote practices that enable various experience social inclusion in sustainable development.

In the past, socially excluded are remote mountain communities who are remote from the centers of decision-making in the lowlands. In fact, the 68th Session of the United Nations’ General Assembly acknowledged that food insecurity, social exclusion and environmental degradation are still high.

In the province, we are addressing that concern. Congratulations to the National Commission of the Indigenous People, Negros Occidental’s indigenous peoples of the Atis and Bukidnons have been consistent participants in provincial organic fairs. At the Panaad, their cooks showcased their mountain cuisines, which were a hit last year during the Eighth Provincial Organic Fair at the Negros Museum.

Panaad sa Negros was conceptualized in 1993 by the provincial government and representatives of the private sector to showcase the festivals of each of the then six cities and 26 municipalities of Negros Occidental.
Congratulations to all for rising to the challenge of globalization by helping the province become a pillar of the country and the world’s green economy.

*****

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 02, 2014.

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