THE Department of Agriculture (DA) in the Cordillera is pushing for farmers to continue good agricultural practice (GAP) to attain food safety.
"Through GAP, excessive and improper use of pesticide can be avoided; proper crop management can reduce the total dependence on pesticide and fertilizer. More importantly, proper farm and storage management can reduce accidents on poisoning or contamination from chemicals," food safety point person Noel Villa said.
"For food safety preparation, we approach local government units to do the enforcement, and on our part, we have to design also our augmentation programs to help on the implementation," said Villa.
Earlier, the Farmers Leaders Council, comprised of associations from different municipalities in Benguet, convened for a training on proper handling of vegetables and delivery of quality produce at Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center.
In the region, farmers practicing GAP needs few adjustments, such as harvesting produce at optimum maturity, minimize mechanical injury, pre-cool after harvest, and maintain cool chain through supply chain, and store chilling sensitive produce above critical temperatures.
"Kung tutuusin hindi naman masasabi kung sino. Tere are just some areas na kailangan talagang ayusin so like basic sanitation, basic management, use of the pesticides and fertilizers," said Villa.
Villa added that although there are instances GAP practitioners refer to as traceability, farmers need improvement with regards to the management of their records.
"They still keep records but it is not orderly. What we aim is for them to start learning putting their record, maayos, when they try to calculate, when they try review the farming practice," said Villa, who also serves as member of the technical working group for GAP in the region.
GAP guiding principles comprise site selection and management, planting material selection, water source, pest and animal control, fertilizers and pesticides, harvesting, transportation, traceability and recall. These principles were set by international standards agreed by all members of the World Trade Organization.
"It’s very ironic Filipinos design the protocols, we are the ones having difficulties complying with its implementation," added Villa.
At present, the DA-Cordillera's information drive continues, targeting those who want to impart good agricultural practices.