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Farmers urged to go organic, practice good agriculture for ASEAN integration

SAMAR PROVINCE, Philippines – An official of the Department of Agriculture urged farmers in Eastern Visayas to go organic and be certified for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to enjoy the benefits of the ASEAN integration.
At the PIA 8/ASEAN kiosk launch at Robinson’ s Place in Tacloban City, Dr. Carlos dela Cruz, Chief Regulatory Division of DA 8 urged the gathered farmers to produce safe and quality food that can compete with other ASEAN member states.
According to the department of agriculture, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) is a set of consolidated safety and quality standards for on-farm fruit and vegetable production.
In the area of food safety, “farm-to-table” refers to the stages of food production from the way it is grown or raised, to how it is harvested, manufactured, packed, delivered and consumed.
“Everyone has a responsibility to minimize foodborne illnesses, even long before the food reaches the table. At each stage of the food chain, from the farmers/producers to the consumers, we aim for high level food safety.”
“Farmers products, livestocks, fish produce should abide in the certification processes-this is the only way where our products can compete,” said dela Cruz.
He added that the department assists farmers through subsidizing the processing fee so that more farmers can be certified.
Presently, there are but some 63 certified organic farms in the country and 74 farms certified for GAP standards.
With the ASEAN integration, the country conceptualized and developed its own National GAP program.
In Eastern Visayas only one farm is organic certified and two with GAP certificates.
”We have received an invitation from Calbayog City and Sta. Margarita (in Samar) for organic rice and organic black rice certification, respectively. ”
He asked the farmers that if they want their farms to be certified, to just write the department and they will send people to assess and certify if it will pass the standard set by the ASEAN.
ASEAN member states are tasked to align their national standards with the remaining four modules of ASEAN GAP which is food safety; produce quality; workers, health, safety and welfare; and environmental management.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.