GOVERNOR Alfredo Marañon Jr. vowed to sustain the Provincial Government’s movement on developing the organic agricultural industry in Negros Occidental.
In his speech during the opening rites of the 13th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival at the Capitol grounds in Bacolod City on Wednesday, November 28, Marañon said the annual event has been attracting many visitors, especially those coming from other countries.
He said some government officials of Okinawa City are attending the festival, on top of other foreign guests from Australia and Korea, among others.
“They are impressed and surprised with our products,” he said, adding that the increasing number of people joining the festival signifies that it is becoming bigger and more successful every year.
The theme of the event is “Organic Agriculture: The Greening of Negros Island.” This year's organic farmers festival will run until Saturday, December 1.
In his speech, the governor recognized the efforts of the founders of the festival, which he considers a major part of the province’s organic agriculture movement.
Marañon said the trend now all over the world is healthy food. This is aside from the fact that organic farming has been helping a lot of farmers and their families in terms of improving their lives.
“So we should sustain our organic agriculture movement in the province which we started 13 years ago,” he said, adding that “anything good for the health and farmers should be continued.”
The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas assured of its support to further boost the province’s organic agriculture industry.
Rene Famoso, chief operations Division of DA-Western Visayas, said the hope of the region in terms of organic agriculture is Negros Occidental because it is the only province that has been declared as an organic island.
Western Visayas has around 460,000 hectares of agricultural lands. The regional line agency is targeting seven percent of which to be devoted to organic.
He noted that of the 13,000-hectare target for Negros Occidental, the province already exceeded with almost 15,000 hectares devoted to organic farming.
Famoso, however, stressed that the fund for organic agriculture in the region is limited.
In 2018, DA-Western Visayas only allotted P2.1 million for Negros Occidental benefiting only five local government units (LGUs).
Unfortunately, there will be smaller budget in 2019, he said.
“We know that our governor here is not sleeping and it is really his dream,” the DA official said, adding that despite the small assistance for organic agriculture in Negros Occidental the regional line agency will still support its programs.
During the activity on Thursday, November 28, the Provincial Government recognized organic practitioners, focal persons, local government units (LGUs), and stakeholders for their contribution to the development of the local organic agriculture industry.
The province awarded Victorias City as best organic LGU; Pamela Henares of Talisay City as best certified organic farm (individual category); Negros Island Organic Producers Association in Bago City as best certified organic farm (group category); Donie Vergara of Bago City as best farm in-conversion (individual category); Nataban Organic Village Farmers Association in San Carlos City as best farm in-conversion (group category); Modesto Alpas of Sipalay City as best coffee farmer; Rogelio Catalogo of Salvador Benedicto as best cacao farmer; and Loduvico Villanueva of Silay City as best integrated agroforestry.
Other winners are Samson Delos Reyes of Salvador Bendicto as best aqua inland aquaculture project; Electo Vilaaster of Salvador Benedicto as best livestock project for chicken, Cecil Silverio of Binalbagan for pekin duck, and Dr. Romeo Agraviador of San Carlos City for goat; Don Luis Consing Elementary School in Cadiz City as best school implementing organic agriculture project (elementary); and Cansilayan National High School in Murcia-best school implementing organic agriculture project (high school).
The province also recognized Nannetes Farm in Cadiz City as best agriculture entrepreneur; Nerylynn Lim of Manapla as best organic agriculture integrated project (individual category); Pakigda-et sa Kalambo-an in Toboso as best organic agriculture integrated project (group category); Eva Dela Cruz of La Carlota City as organic focal person; Elpedio Dayuday of San Carlos City as best agricultural extension worker; and Sumugat Family of Victorias City as best organic practitioner family.
They received cash prizes and certificates.
Eight individuals and organizations, meanwhile, received various equipment for food processing from the Provincial Government in collaboration with the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
These are the Satoca Agrarian Reform Cooperative, Colonia Divina Marang Associations, Muy Bien Ventures Inc., Yvonne Ambino (Rural Improvement Club), Elizabeth Regla (Rural Improvement Club), Ofelia Tagaysay (Kabankalan Women’s Club), Melva Tolog (Kabankalan Women’s Club), and Ana Marie Braza (Rural Improvement Club).
Among the guests during the opening ceremony included Rei Yoon, chief executive officer of Soil and Organic Movement Inc., and representatives of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.
The four-day event will also highlight exhibits of organic products and by-products, and sustainable innovations and technologies practiced by different organic farmer-producers and advocates in the island.