THE Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards (DA-BAFPS) said Negros Occidental’s vast agricultural lands devoted to sugarcane farming can be tapped for good agricultural practices (GAP) certification.
Vince Tecson, science research specialist II of DA-BAFPS, said all four small holder groups from Negros Occidental which already acquired GAP certification are concentrated on vegetable production.
Not even one on sugarcane, which is the major crop of the province, he added.
Tecson, who talked on the role of agricultural practices in food safety during the 1st National Conference on Food Safety at SMX Convention Center, said sugarcane farmers should realize that GAP certification enables them to position their products better in the market.
“They can actually advertise their products as GAP certified by including it in their packaging and label,” Tecson said, adding that as the biggest producer of sugar in the Philippines with market abroad, exporting countries may soon require GAP certification.
Amid the Asean economic integration, it is possible that Philippines’ neighbors would require GAP standards depending on their respective regulations.
This is something to prepare for, the BAFPS official said, adding that “sugarcane farmers should be ready by the time it happens.”
Tecson said the country previously attempted to export onions in Indonesia, but failed due to lack of GAP certification.
“Aside from export market, GAP certification would also give farmers competitive advantage, including better market access domestically,” Tecson added.
To strengthen GAP certification in Negros, the official urged the DA Regional Field Office in Negros Island Region to establish the Regional GAP Team.
The team will also include local government units in providing technical assistance to farmers like pre-assessment prior to the certification.
Tecson said the Philippines has very small number of GAP certified farms, only about 100 unlike Thailand’s more than 200,000, mainly because of misconception that it is hard to comply with the standards.
He added that the right information did not reach the stakeholders, including the farmers as well as retailers thus, the DA-BAFPS, through its partners, is working on strengthening its information dissemination efforts.
“We have to be market-driven, we need to involve the retailers. Through this, we can increase the demand for GAP certified products, Tecson said.