THE Provincial Government of Negros Occidental is investing P16 million to strengthen its organic farming program in the bid to further help local farmers.
The Provincial Board, during its regular session Wednesday, July 18, has given Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. the authority to make such investment with Family Farms Incorporated, a social enterprise operating in Bago City.
Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said the amount is mainly intended as an investment in facilities to support postharvest operations of those devoted to organic farming.
Masculino said he is banking on the services of Family Farms, which already has facilities dedicated to organic products. For organic rice, for instance, it has mill intended only for such commodity to avoid contamination with non-organic ones.
The enterprise has been into the introduction of technology to the farmers, assisting those who want to practice organic, facilitating certification, buying the produce of local organic farmers, and selling them to the market.
Since its main purpose is to export organic rice from Negros Occidental, it is equipped with appropriate machinery and technologies, adhering to organic production standards, he said.
“Our investment will mainly go to postharvest facilities,” Masculino said, adding that since organic agriculture is one of the flagship programs of the province, Family Farms is an organization that needs to be supported.
The provincial agriculturist also pointed out that the enterprise has an “end to end” activity, from production to market.
Thus, it is easy to convince farmers, especially those apprehensive of the market, to go organic as the entity will take charge of their products, Masculino added.
The Provincial Government targets to start the investment this year.
Through which, it hopes to encourage more farmers to convert to organic production through one, provision of incentives.
Currently, there are at least 17,000 organic adaptors, mostly small farmers, in Negros Occidental.
Masculino said Family Farms buys organic products with P2.00 incentive on top of the prevailing market price.
“This effort is positioned to benefit local organic farmers of different crops, initially, more of rice,” Masculino said.
It is also seen to enable the province to eventually penetrate the global market as its investment on additional facilities would mean production of more quality organic rice, he added.