By Alpine L. Killa
Bontoc, Mountain Province –Organic and processed products produced by the local farmers in the province are being sold at reasonable prices at the Organic Trading Post in Sac-angan, Bilibid Compound of this municipality following its start of operation in February this year.
The Organic Trading Post is similar to a Barangay Food Terminal where agricultural products such as heirloom rice, vegetables, legumes, fruits, andother high-value crops are displayed and sold. Aside from these, processed products such as peanut butters, vinegar, coffee, muscovado, chilli paste and sweets are available.
According to Organic Agriculture Focal for Crops Janice Lizardo of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAg), the Organic Trading Post is being operated and managed by the Sallog Sin-ag-i Multi-Purpose Cooperative with the assistance of the OPAg. It is open from Monday to Friday at 8:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon.
The construction of the two million pesos Organic Trading Post building was financed by the Provincial Local Government Unit (PLGU) – Mountain Province in partnership with the Department of Agriculture- Cordillera Administrative Region (DA-CAR). The DA- CAR downloaded its one million pesos counterpart, and the PLGU- MP chipped in its one million pesos share and provided the lot and the existing building.
Lizardo said that with the establishment of the facility, members of the organic farmer organizations and farmers of the locality who organically grow their crops now have a place to display their products. However, she admitted that there is a shortage on the supply of organic products being brought at the Organic Trading Post as these were easily sold.
Gov. Leonard G. Mayaen assured the full support of the provincial government to the organic farmers in the province. With the establishment of the Organic Trading Post where farmers have a place to market their produce, he is hopeful that more farmers will go into organic farming. The governor added that aside from generating income through organic farming, organic farmers also help constituents of the province to have a healthy life.
In support and prior to the establishment of the Organic Trading Post, Governor Mayaen in his executive order, created the Provincial Organic Agriculture Committee which shall in coordination and assistance of the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Products Standard (BAFPS)/ Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Unit (DA-RFU) shall implement activities, projects and undertakings in line with the National Organic Program.
Mayaen in his executive order stipulated the functions of the Provincial Agriculture Committee. Formulate and coordinate implementation of local agriculture policies, plans, programs and projects to develop and promote organic agriculture production processing and trade; identify sources of financing and oversee the implementation of the organic agriculture program; review and endorse local organic agriculture development programs and projects; pass resolutions approving and adopting provincial organic agriculture programs as a strategy in addressing concerns in food security, environment, health and wellness, and poverty alleviation, and to submit the same to the Sannguniang Panlalawigan for their corresponding considerations; and conduct seminars, sponsor organic radio programs, agro-industrial fairs, organic festival, declaration of market day, and organic product congress with funding from the local government unit development funds and support from the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB), DAand other national government agencies.
Aside from the newly established Organic Trading Post, a “Special Market Day” for Organic Products in Mountain Province is already in place since 2013. In his Executive Order No. 38, Series of 2013, Gov. Mayaen declared every first working day of the month as a Special Market Day” for organic agricultural products within the Provincial Capitol compound. This aims to increase organic produce of the farmers and encourage organic farmer practitioners and organizations from the different municipalities to market their products.
With the Organic Trading Post and Special Market Day in place, Lizardo is hopeful that more farmers will be encouraged to practice organic farming to ensure continuous supply of organic product to the organic trading post.
Meanwhile, Sallog Sin-ag-i Multi-Purpose Cooperative President Albert D. Docallas said that their organization is grateful to the provincial government and DA-CAR for entrusting the project to them, and committed to properly manage the flow of operations.