Convening several key players in Organic Agriculture all over the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture thru the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) opened the 17th National Organic Agriculture Congress at the University of Southern Mindanao, in Kabacan, Cotabato Province on March 21, 2023. The congress will run from March 21-23, 2023.

Honored guests in the said activity were International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Asia Executive Director Jennifer Chang as the keynote speaker, H.E. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. who conveyed his message thru Office of Special Assistant to the President Undersecretary Joana Paula Domingo, and Hon. Senator Cynthia Villar who gave a video message during the opening program.

Zeroing-in on the Congress theme “Maunlad na Pagsasaka Garantisado sa Organikong Agrikulturang Sinasaliksik”, the key officials conveyed unified support in furthering efforts to promote and strengthen the Organic Agriculture industry in the country. Pres. Marcos pledged support in addressing challenges in food security, sustainability and environmental conservation through Organic Agriculture while Sen. Cynthia Villar likewise talked about supplementing capacity of farmers in producing crops which would bring higher productivity and income and reduce production cost vis-à-vis increasing their yield.

Meawhile, keynote speaker Dir. Jennifer Chang lauded the government particularly the IFOAM members in the country for the adoption of the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) as an alternative and complementary tool to third-party certification which has boosted organic farming and increased the number of farms that has adopted organic agriculture production in the Philippines.

Among the highlights of the 1st day of the Congress is the opening of the trade fair featuring several organic products from the Mindanao cluster regions.

The second day of the Congress also featured several lectures and presentations on various topics in organic agriculture production where farmer-participants were able to select which plenary would they be interested to participate in to further widen their knowledge and skills in organic farming.

Under the plenary session on Fertilizer, topics featured were Technology promotion of Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Root Inoculant Crops, Rice, Poultry and Livestock; Value-adding of Animal Wastes and Understanding the fertilizer value of organic fertilizer/compost for sustainable farming systems; Micro/nano-structure properties of different Biochars derived from biomass wastes for the improvement of soil quality; Protocol Improvement and Development of Microbial Inoculants for the production of improved fermented biological extracts; and isolation and utilization of antibiotic degrading microorganism in the production of organic fertilizer.

On the Crops plenary, topics presented were Documentation and Field Efficacy Trial of Botanicals Against fruitworm and Black Leaf Mold disease caused by Psuedocercospora Fuligena (Roldan) Deighton in Tomato; Postharvest quality and safety management organically-grown fruits and vegetables; Assuring quality, safety and nutritional benefits from organically-grown fruits and vegetables through postharvest systems improvement; Organic vegetable varieties for higher yields, quality and sustainability; Participatory breeding and seed production on organic vegetables; Establishment of organic seed production system; and Technology promotion and utilization of Selected biofertilizer, biostimulants and Microbial biopesticides for sustainable corn and legume production on selected regions.

The Efficacy evaluation of IMO Applied with metarhizium against Rice Black Bug and the Efficacy of Matrine for the control of major insect pests of Rice were the topics discussed under Rice.

For poultry and livestock, presentations were on the Mangosteen Rind Powder: A natural feed additive for chickens; Evaluation of vermi meal as potential organic feed for Nile Tilapia Fingerlings; Growth of Nile Tilapia using varying levels of vermicast with partial supplementation of feeds; and Organic Complete Ration Mix (OCRM) Potential feeds and feeding system for Dairy Goats production of improved fermented biological extracts; Phenotypic Characteristics and egg quality of improved Philippine mallard duck under intensive management system; and the Growth and carcass performance of male white leghorn fed with organic and commercial free-range diets raised under extensive rearing system.

Concluding the 3-day NOAC event will be a visit to several organic demo farms within the area by the participants. Of the 445 reported number of participants that arrived for the event, the Ilocos Region brought in delegates consists of organic farming practitioners from Pangasinan, La Union and Ilocos Sur.