REPUBLIC Act 10068, known as the Organic Agriculture Act (OAA) of 2010, was signed into law in 2010. It is an act providing for the development and promotion of organic agriculture (OA) in the Philippines and for other purposes.

The Cordillera region, especially the province of Benguet, is one of the earliest provinces to respond to the call of DA. It was noted that, there are numbers of evolving smallholder groups before and after the Organic Agriculture Act was signed.

Many farmers and consumers have realized the hazardous effects of chemicals used in farming. Many consumers, especially those who belong to the upper class, are now health conscious and are looking for pesticide-free vegetables.

With the increased popularity and media attention upon organics and health consciousness among consumers, many farmers have seen a growing opportunity in organic agriculture. Remarkably, practitioners have been growing in number and that many organic agriculture advocates and practitioners have organized themselves into groups or cooperatives with the aim of promoting organic agriculture as a sustainable farming system and organic products for health reasons.

In the province of Benguet, a total of 50 farmers’ organizations devoted to organic agriculture have evolved. Out of these 50 OA farmers’ associations, 45 are engaged in organic vegetable production and only five are engaged in organic livestock/poultry production.

In terms of number, the Municipality of La Trinidad is the highest with 10 OA farmers groups. It also hosts the regional organic group named Latop MPC (La Trinidad Organic Practitioners Multi-Purpose Cooperative).

Next to La Trinidad is the municipality of Kibungan, having seven farmers’ organizations that are mostly engaged in organic coffee production.

Further, in the aspect of organic certification, out of the 50 farmers’ organizations in Benguet, only La Trinidad Organic Practitioners Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Latop MPC) was certified by OCCP (Organic Certification Center of the Philippines).

Organic practitioners

In Benguet, a total of 3,326 individual organic practitioners were recorded as of the time of visit. The total includes individuals engaged in organic vegetable, heirloom rice, coffee and organic livestock/poultry production.

From the 3,326 total organic practitioners, 3,310 are members of the 50 identified farmers’ organizations devoted to organic agriculture in the province. Apart from the members of the OA farmer’s organizations, there were also 16 individual organic practitioners who are independent and are not a member of any OA farmers’ organization within their locality. They are scattered in the different municipalities and have a total area of 4.095 hectares devoted to organic farming.

Organic inputs producers

With the advances in the organic agriculture industry, organic inputs producers are needed. LGUs, through the MAO, lead in the production of organic inputs as part of their mandate. Products being produced are mokusaku fertilizers (a technology from Japan), vermicompost, compost, etc. These are being produced primarily for demonstration purposes. Excess of produce are either given free or sold to a minimum price to the farmers as a form of assistance.

Cordillera Organic Agriculture Research and Development-BSU