Envisioning to change the agriculture landscape through a consolidated agri-enterprise system, Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Special concerns and the Bangsamoro for Autonomous Region for Muslim in Mindanao (BARMM) and alternate Chair of the National Organic Agriculture Board, Zamzamin Ampatuan together with National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB) Member Dir. Renato dela Cruz, met with 15 Mangngato farmers in Laoag City to discuss the proposed 25-hectare organic rice production in Ilocos Norte on October 5, 2022.

Held at the Organic Demo Farm of Dr. Johny Jose, an organic farming practitioner in Laoag City, the meeting is an initial activity of a series of coordination to be conducted by the DA under the Organic Agriculture Program led by its Focal Person, Dr. Marvin Quilates for the implementation of a proposed project on organic rice production with a working title of “Buklod Bayan para sa Masaganang Ani or BBM-Ani project.

Attended by members of the Sunshine City Organic Farmers Association, Inc., Mr. Dela Cruz discussed the benefits that they can derive in planting organic rice not only for economic sustainability due to high demand and good price in the market, but for consumers’ health benefits and environmental protection.

Sharing the technologies that the Mindanao Organic Rice Industry Council that he represents, he also discussed how they were able to increase their yield from the initial 2 metric tons per hectare to 5 tons per hectare to date by lowering their cost of production using organic rice production technologies.

With a total spending of P30,000 per hectare production of organic rice, much lower than the cost of production in a conventional rice farming of Php40,000-60,000, Mr. dela Cruz said that farmers would gain more if they religiously follow the prescribed technology to produce at least 5.5 metric tons.

“We can only realize this aspiration sa isinusulong naming enterprise thru clustering and consolidation dito sa integrated organic rice production,” Dr. Renato also explained.

Joining the advocacy is Usec. Ampatuan who underscored in his message the importance of consolidation of farmers as among the key factors to boost the country’s agriculture landscape.

With crop management having now set in order by the DA, Usec. Ampatuan noted for the need to strengthen the enterprise system in the agri-sector where farmers have to consolidate in all aspect of farming not only during planting and harvesting, but also during farm machinery usage, fertilizing, use of irrigation as well as marketing.

“Hindi na po basta nagtanim at nag-ani, kailangan na umabot kayo sa market,” Usec. Ampatuan said.

Taking advantage of the President holding the Agriculture cabinet seat at the same time, Usec. Ampatuan deemed necessary for the government to initiate agri-innovative and enterprise-managed system who will take good care of the farmers’ social security, buffer-stocking using silo to totally transform the agriculture landscape.

Meanwhile, on pushing for organic farming to support increase production due to high demand in food as a result of the increasing population, USec. Ampatuan cited the increasing demand for synthetic fertilizer to boost production which has a negative effect on health along with environmental issues and concerns.

Keen on fully supporting organic agriculture, USec Ampatuan is hopeful that the proposed project would further promote organic farming and convince more people to go back to organic agriculture production as food security should also support health security for consumers.##