Spreading the gospel of organic farming

AN organic evangelist has put up a store to encourage more farmers to venture into sustainable organic farming.

Lawyer Emmanuel B. Paronda, co-owner of Tienda Organica, said it's just a matter of educating the market on the wonders of organic products for more farmers to realize that the underrated farming method is far better than conventional farming using chemicals.

The Tienda Organica, located at Suarez Bldg., University Drive, Juna Subdivision in Matina, is home to organic products produced by small groups across Davao Region.

As a member of a non-government organization (NGO) himself, Paronda said farmers often bring up the lack of market as the reason why they are not keen to switch to organic farming.

Having that in mind, Paronda, who is a social entrepreneur himself, added that they buy the products from the producers to help them market and earn the livable income for the products they work hard for.

Tienda Organica, (organic store in English), has a wide range of organic products, from chocolates, soaps, fruit concentrate, rice, eggs, juices, honey and vegetables.

The vegetables are delivered fresh from the foothills of Mt. Apo, south of the city in Barangay Sibulan, Toril. The veggies are grown by the Organic Producers and Exporters Corp (Opec).

"What we are promoting is healthy lifestyle and environmental protection. We also want to help the micro, small, and medium enterprises)," Paronda said.

By putting up an organic store, he wants to change the game by bringing down the cost of organic products and make them available not just to high-end consumers.

"Not because it's organic, the products are prices," he said.

There has been an exponential rise in the demand for organic products, as consumers become more aware of the health risks posed by produce laden with chemical fertilizers.

Proof of this was the warm reception they got during the bazaar held at the Felcris Centrale.

Paronda said he is looking for more partnerships with other groups, and plans to expand to Digos City later this year.

"They can partner with us for as long they share similar mindset with us," he said.

Aside from the planned second store, he is looking at bringing the fresh vegetables to the supermarket of the Abreeza of the Ayala Malls.

The social entrepreneur has high hopes that organic farming will eventually replace the conventional farming method.

"This is sustainable because it will enhance the soil; the more you apply organic fertilizer, the lesser the cost in the long run. The microorganisms in the soil will not be distrurbed, you enhance it even," he added.

Aside from sustainability, organically grown products will not pose a risk to farmers and the customers who eat the products.


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