10 Aug Organic farming practitioners in Pasil train to become certifying body of agri-products
Guru Press Cordillera, August 5, 2022.
Pasil, Kalinga – Local organic practitioners of Pasil, Kalinga may soon have the work of certifying agricultural products, saving farmers from incurring heavy costs for third-party certifiers. The certification is a must for organic produce to gain access to lucrative markets which command a premium price over conventionally grown agri-products. Most certifications, however, are from international organizations called third-party certifiers that require P100,000 per variety of crop, according to Philippine Legal Research. With such amount, the hopes of organic farmers to earn more with proper product labeling turned dim.
‘Participatory Guarantee System reduces cost of organic certification’
Pursuant to the Republic Act No. 11511, an act amending the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 or RA 10068, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on December 23, 2020, the Department of Agriculture launched the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS).
In the new act, the PGS refers to a locally focused quality assurance system, developed and practiced by people actually engaged in organic agriculture.
Built on a foundation of trust, social network, and knowledge exchange, the system is used to certify producers and farmers as actual and active organic agriculture practitioners and serve as an alternative to third-party certification, explained the department.
“The PGS will significantly reduce the cost of maintaining organic certification and actively involve our small farmers and fisherfolk with like-minded stakeholders and advocates of organic agriculture by maintaining the integrity of organic products available in the market,” underscored Agriculture Secretary William Dar said during the PGS formal launching in June.
Pasil organic farming practitioners trained
As initiated by the local government of Pasil headed by Mayor Alfredo “Chao-ig” Malannag Jr., 16 organic farming practitioners from the municipality underwent a 10-day Training of Trainers (TOT) for PGS Core Groups from July 13 to 23, 2022 at Las Vegas Hotel, Tabuk City.
Agriculturist Rowena Gonnay conveyed the trained practitioners were from Pasil’s Slow Food Multipurpose Cooperative and Kalinga Rice Terraces Farmers Association Cooperative.
Agricultural Training Institute – Cordillera facilitated the training, briefing the participants on the establishment and operation of PGS, accreditation of PGS groups as Organic Certifying Bodies, Philippine National Standard on Organic Agriculture, and other relevant standards.
As part of the training workshops, the groups drafted their Manual of Operations (MOO), in preparation for their accreditation application.
According to Gonnay, the trained organic practitioners need to finalize their MOO and certificate of compliance first before their application will be reviewed by the Accreditation Section of the Organic Agriculture Division.
After which, they shall prepare an audit plan to verify the effective implementation of the PGS group’s internal standards, policies, and procedures.
Implementation of Correction and Corrective Action Plan (CCAP) shall likewise be monitored before they will be granted the Accreditation Certificate and Participatory Organic Certificates (POC).
The accreditation certificate shall be valid for five years while the POC has 3-year validity. The accredited PGS group shall apply for renewal at least three months prior to the expiration of the accreditation certificate.
To ensure continued compliance of PGS groups, annual surveillance shall be conducted.
Privileges of accredited PGS groups
If the PGS group is accredited by the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standard (BAFS) with POS, the group is given privileges, including labeling of products as “organic” and the use of the Philippine PGS Guaranteed Organic Mark.
By then, the group will be called a second party certifying body for the production of Organic Agriculture.