A NEGRENSE farmer was shortlisted for the 2019 National Organic Agriculture Achievers’ Awards (NOAAA), a competition that recognizes organic agriculture development initiatives in the country.
Jesus Antonio Orbida, an integrated and organic farmer from Binalbagan town, is among the three finalists in the outstanding small farmer (individual) category.
Orbida, who runs the only farm tourism site in the southern part of Negros Occidental accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT), is also the winner of the same category in this year’s Regional Organic Agriculture Achievers’ Awards (ROAAA).
“This new recognition is just a bonus on our hard work as organic farming practitioners,” he said, adding that it would be a bigger reward for us to encourage and teach more farmers to go organic.
Prior to these recognitions, Orbida was also a recipient of various awards including the Outstanding Coconut Farmer in the Pasidungog sa Panguma, Pangisda kag Pangkasapatan in 2017, Negros Island Outstanding Coconut farmer in 2017, Outstanding Coconut Farmer in the Third Niyogros Festival and 2018 Regional Coconut Week Celebration, 2018 Regional Gawad Saka Outstanding Coconut, and national finalist Outstanding Coconut Farmer in 2018.
Also last year, he was recognized by the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental for coconut and integrated farming during the 2nd Food Production Heroes Assembly.
Their association, PeacePond Farmers Association, also bagged the 2018 The Outstanding Farmer of the Philippines (Tofarm) gold award for agriculture initiatives category.
PeacePond, a less than five-hectare farm and fish production area at Barangay Enclaro, promotes integrated and diversified farming.
Being the only DOT-accredited tourism establishment in Binalbagan, it practices agroforestry by intercropping other farm produce between coconut trees.
The farm’s main produce are coconut and by-products like cocosugar, virgin coconut oil (VCO), natural and organic vinegar.
It has a Mangrove Crab Farm inside the mangrove sanctuary under the Aquasilvi project of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
Also, the farm hosts the Plastic Bottle Learning Center and Eco Seed Factory aimed at promoting health, education, information dissemination, and food security especially among small farmer-families.
Orbida, the association’s president, pointed out that prices of chemical fertilizer and pesticide are not decreasing. The lives of small and marginalized farmers are not improving as well.
He said the production of organic fertilizer and pesticide can help reduce the expenses of the farmers. Instead, it will be an additional income for them.
“Our farms need to recover from the effects of chemical fertilizers and pesticides use,” Orbida said, stressing that various diseases have been affecting the plants and crops in the world not only in the Philippines.
Even experts previously campaigning for the use of chemical fertilizers have already shifted to organic farming, he pointed out.
Prior to the awarding rites in November, the National Technical Search Committee of the NOAAA has scheduled the field validation on August 27 to 30 this year.
For the ROAAA, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas also named four other winners in the province.
Elpedio Dayuday will receive this year’s Outstanding Local Government Unit Agricultural Extension Worker award while Corazon Galon won as outstanding provincial focal person.
Negros Occidental and Victorias City will be recognized as outstanding province and city, respectively, during the awarding rites in October this year.
For Orbida, Negros Occidental is fortunate as former governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. pushed for the development of local organic agriculture.
“With the present administration of Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, along with Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino, he has vowed to sustain organic farming in the province,” he added.