I AM happy to see new faces in the organic agricultural movement. And the old faces taking the back seat.
In the early years of this decade, I became vice president of the Organik na Negros! Organic Producers and Retailers Association (Onopra).
Funny that, since I’m not even a farmer but an advocate of organic movement. I’m into community forestry. My comfort zone was in forest conservation focusing on non-timber forest products (NTFP), promoting non-timber alternatives in the tropical forests of Mt Kanlaon and the then northern Negros forest reserve.
But forest-dependent users are basically farmers for their food security. Before anything, they have to eat. They have to farm, especially rice, the Philippine staple to ensure they have food on the table the year round.
We talked of sustainability. That means using organic agriculture instead of synthetic fertilizers.
Our field staff attended technical training in various parts of the country so they can train farmers into making their own fertilizers.
They also trained farmers to diversify their farms, combining organic rice production with planting trees and developing cutflowers to attract beneficial insects to feed on insect pests, livestock and poultry raising, and NTFPs. The buzzword was agrobiodiversity.
In ONOPRA, I met other stalwarts of the Negros organic agriculture movement. My friend and colleague Ramón Uy Jr, then Onopra president. And attendee at The Feast, a Catholic charismatic.
In 2016, we bowed out of the ONOPRA to make way for the new blood. And one of them was newly Jesus Antonio “Jet” Orbida who came back to Negros Occidental.
Formerly working for GMA Network, he became a Negrense farmer, the executive director of the PeacePond Farmers Association (PFA) while wife Checcs Osmeña-Orbida is the president. PeacePond, an eight-hectare organic farm and fish production area in Barangay Enclaro, also hosts the Plastic Bottle Learning Center and Eco Seed Factory inaugurated Wednesday, October 5.
Jet was elected to the ONOPRA board when Chinchin and I bowed out. New generation, new champions.
Recently, he won the Outstanding Small Farmer in the Regional Organic Agriculture Achievers’ Award of the Department of Agriculture.
Prior to the organic agriculture achievers’ award, he 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.
Congratulations, Jet. More success for the organic farming movement. Negros Occidental continues to be in the front seat of the Organic Movement.