By Maya M. Padillo
The Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) will issue certification to a hundred organic farms in Davao City this year giving assurance to consumers that products followed organic standards.
Davao-PGS Chair Nena Morales said they already certified and awarded PGS certificates to five organic farmers and farms. Another 20 are currently being assessed by PGS inspectors under the supervision of the Davao-PGS Committee. The inspection of farms started on August 12.
Morales assured that PGS certification is legitimate because organic products are to be certified by the farmers themselves. Under the PGS system an organic farmer is examined by a peer network of organic farmers and stakeholders in relation to their compliance to organic standards.
Morales said PGS certified local consumers will have more reasons to support and patronize the weekly Friday Organic Farmers Market in the city’s Rizal Park.
She said the PGS brand levels the playing field among organic producers since small farmers can now afford organic certification unlike in previous years when the only available certification is from the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP) which is expensive for the average backyard farmer.
A second party organic certification, the Davao PGS is recognized internationally by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).
The PGS certification locally focused quality assurance system. Certification would be issued to producers based on active participation of stakeholders such as the City Agriculturist’s Office (CAO), City Veterinarian Office (CVO), and the Department of Agriculture (DA). These agencies are working with the Davao PGS Committee.
Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) Watershed Campaign Officer Joy Enriquez said at P100 fee, PGS certification small organic farmers can be certified at minimal expense. She said this will also keep the prices of organic produce affordable to the average consumer.
In an interview last year, City Organic Agriculture Program coordinator JoselitoTabora said they are pushing for the PGS to get rid of the high cost of certification. Under the Organic Agriculture Law (Republic Act 10068), farmers are not allowed to label products as organic unless certified by the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines. Such certification, however, requires farmers to pay P25,000-40,000 per organic commodity, with annual renewal.
The only certified organic farm last year was in Sibulan, Toril district. It is a 50-hectare organic farm planted with banana and vegetables. But, most of its products are not domestically marketed because the best is exported to Japan.