The province of Bohol hosted the first ever #OKsaOA (OK sa Organic Agriculture) Information Caravan which was conducted last April 13, 2023, at the Ceremonial Hall, 4th Floor, Bohol Provincial Capitol, Cogon, Tagbilaran City.
Governor Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado in his prepared message being read by Governor’s Office Chief of Staff Atty. Filipina Piollo said that the current administration of the Provincial Government of Bohol (PGBh) under its Strategic Change and Development Agenda, calls for the increase of agricultural production while ensuring the protection of our environment.
Gov. Aumentado added that as we move forward toward progress and prosperity, we need to strike a balance between continued development and sustainability of natural resources. This is why the provincial government is looking at organic agriculture as one of the ways in which we can improve the lives of our farmers while making sure that the environment is still being protected, the governor explained.
He said that with the #OKsaOA Information Caravan as a consultative meeting and a platform in which technical discussion on organic agriculture will be tackled among the different stakeholders, he believes that this would be a chance for everyone to look at the opportunities regarding this sector and also determine and develop appropriate interventions and solutions to the challenges that are currently faced by the OA stakeholders.
The governor said that we want a Green Bohol, and for us to achieve this, we need initiatives like the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for us to move forward in the most environmentally-friendly way possible while elevating the way of life across different communities.
Aumentado assured that the provincial government will always support this endeavor.
Meanwhile, Vice-Governor Dionisio Victor A. Balite in his prepared message being read also by his Chief of Staff Atty. Glenn Rey Anino underscored the role of agriculture as vital and crucial in a country’s economic development. It is considered as the backbone of the state’s economic system. In addition to provide food and raw materials, agriculture also provides employment opportunities to a very large percentage of the population.
Vice-Gov. Balite said the law advocates policy dissemination and information campaign. Further, it shall be responsible for the promotion of awareness on organic agriculture technologies and products through information caravan, social media, quad media (print, broadcast, internet and outdoor) among others, he said.
The vice-governor stressed that as we move forward to celebrate another milestone for our organic agriculture industry, he being the Chairman of the Committee of Agriculture in the province has the highest hope that through this information caravan, through the researchers’ findings and innovations, we could create, discover, and adopt more practices for the benefit of the Boholanos and the environment.
He congratulated the contributions of organic practitioners and innovators in the organic agriculture industry as he also thanked all the participants in the activity especially the organizers, the NOAP- National Program Coordinating Office’s dedicated response to the growing clamor for the promotion of an alternative agricultural system that is environment friendly and supportive of citizen’s health.
On the other hand, NOAP Director Bernadette F. San Juan when she gave the overview of NOAP and discussed the highlights of the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) between DILG and DA urged the Local Government Units (LGUs) to allocate big funds for agriculture as she said “put the money where the mouth is”.
Dir. San Juan emphasized that farming must continue and we will not wait that shortages of food may come.
Meanwhile, Dr. Gracia F. Arado, Center Director, Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center (ATI-RTC) 7 bared that as early as 2007, they already started advocating and promoting OA in the region and in the province of Bohol.
Dr. Arado said that aside from the Agriculture Extension Workers (AEWs) as the entry points during those times, they strategized to include high school TLE teachers teaching in agriculture or agricators and they had the Adopt a School Program – garden in school adopting the OA production technologies.
Arado said that this program is aimed at expanding the areas for OA production and as well as including the minds of the youth to embrace agriculture because our farmers are already aging. Besides this, the youth should end up agripreneurs or have knowledge that there is money in agriculture.
The ATI-RTC Director said that ATI is the capacity builder, knowledge bank and catalyst we continuously promote and advocate OA.
Nunila Pinat, Executive Assistant ll to the Governor for Agriculture in her welcome message thanked those who have been promoting OA as she is OA practitioner. Pinat who became an OIC Provincial Agriculturist during the time of Erstwhile Gov. Erico B. Aumentado and became mayor of San Miguel, Bohol cited the importance of organic farming for a healthy lifestyle and sustainable farming.
While former DA Director Engr. Ricardo Oblena who is also the chairman of the Task Force Committee on ISDA Program of the provincial government said that he wanted that Bohol can produce organic Tilapia and Bangus.
Provincial OA Focal Person Maricel C. Barloso before she formally closed the program thanked the provincial government for allocating funds for OA this year in the amount of P7,000,500. However, she disclosed that the operation of OA to the different municipalities in Bohol is now slowly moving.
This came when there have been no OA focal persons anymore working in the Municipal Local Government Units (MLGUs) after the incentive in the amount of P3,500 for each one of them per month was stopped this year. She recalled that in 2020 there were 18 focal persons, in 2021 had 21 and last year had 9.
Barloso disclosed that the OA program in Bohol has targeted 5% or 9, 243 hectares (has.) for organic conversion areas from the 184,874 has. total agricultural areas in the province.
She said that as of now, of the 9, 243 has. target only 1, 807 has. or 19% have been identified as organic areas.
In the organic program, Bohol has 1, 496 OA farmers, 24 OA associations identified, 2 Organic Trading Posts, and 46 learning farm sites accredited by ATI. (By Atoy Cosap).