July 01, 2021 – The Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) led by Director Myer G. Mula conducted the focused group orientation (FGO) in Cebu City on June 28, 2021 in recognizing the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS). The series of FGO aims to ensure a uniform understanding of the basic concepts of PGS as provided in Republic Act (RA) 11511 to clarify the collaboration mechanisms between the BAFS and the Regional Field Offices of the Department (RFOs) in the implementation of PGS, particularly on the regulation aspect.
The orientation was attended by personnel of DA-RFO No. 7 led by the Research and Regulations Regional Technical Director (RTD) Joel A. Elumba, Field Operations Division Chief Dr. Gerry S. Avila, Regulatory Division Chief Dr. Raul D. Migriño, and Organic Agriculture Program Focal Person Ms. Mae Montecillo. Regional Director Alfeo Piloton and personnel of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Office No. 7 also attended the orientation.
During the opening ceremony, Director Mula emphasized the need for collaboration mechanisms among the implementing agencies and complementation of the DA Programs not only to ensure the success of the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP), but more so in implementing PGS provisions. RTD Elumba added that the PGS empowers the smallholder farmers and fisherfolk, and is expected to further boost organic agriculture in the country. The BAFS Team presented the salient provisions of RA 11511, particularly those pertaining to the PGS, and overview of the certification and accreditation process of core PGS groups that intend to operate and apply as organic certifying bodies (OCBs). The rollout of activities relative to the implementation of PGS for FY 2021 was also presented.
During the open forum, participants particularly sought clarification on the composition of the core PGS group, the requirement for accreditation, and the role of the RFOs for agriculture and fishery. The BAFS Team clarified that the criteria, which include the composition of the core PGS group and the requirements were all specified in Section 14 of RA 11511.
The BAFS added that the Regional Organic Agriculture Program of DA-RFOs and BFAR together with the Regional Training Center of Agricultural Training Institute (ATI-RTC) will play a major role in capacitating interested PGS groups to qualify for certification and accreditation conducted by BAFS. On the other hand, the regulatory divisions of these offices will be tapped by the BAFS during the inspections for certification of the core PGS group members.
Following the FGO, the BAFS and Regional Team with the assistance of OIC-City Agriculturist Ms. Mary Grace Go visited potential farmers and associations that will be members of the core PGS group within Mandaue City on June 29, 2021. The Team visited first the 150 square meter urban garden of Mr. Jesus Cortez in Brgy. Canduman, Mandaue City. Mr. Cortez’s farm showcases a compact yet diversified production system using various organic agriculture technologies. With the assistance of the Regional Organic Agriculture Program and the City Agriculture Office, Mr. Cortez may potentially become an initiator of PGS in the City.
The Team also introduced PGS to 34 members of the Jagobiao Urban Integrated Farmers Association Inc. who were attending the Farmer Scientist Training Program (FSTP) conducted by the City Agriculture Office. Most of the participants are already organic agriculture practitioners but are constrained with the high cost of third-party certification. During the open forum, the Team clarified some queries on the mechanisms of the PGS and the provisions of the Philippine National Standards (PNS) for organic agriculture. Over-all, members of the association showed enthusiasm in resuming their organic agriculture activities upon learning the PGS.
The site visits became a venue for the BAFS and Regional Team to fast track the implementation of PGS. ###
Discussion between Director Mula and RTD Elumba regarding the composition of the core
PGS group during the Focused Group Orientation in Cebu City.
Ms. Joeve S. Calleja clarified the query on how to encourage the municipal/city and provincial Local Government
Units to establish their respective Local Technical Committees for Organic Agriculture.
Director Myer Mula of BAFS and Mr. Jesus Cortez during the site visit of
Jesus Garden in Brgy. Canduman, Mandaue City.
Mr. Cortez explains to Director Myer Mula, Ms. Joeve Calleja, and Ms. Mae Busangilan of Regional Organic
Agriculture Program how he manages his garden using organic agriculture technologies.
BAFS and Regional Team led by Director Mula and Ms. Calleja introduced PGS to the members of
Jagobiao Urban Integrated Farmers Association Inc. during the site visit held on June 29, 2021.