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BONTOC, Mt. Province – Scaling up to ASEAN integration, the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) under the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera Administrative Region, together with the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG), conducted a 4-day seminar last May 23-26, 2017 on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for farmers producing upland and lowland vegetables in the Mountain Province at the Ridgebrooke Hotel, Samoki, Bontoc, Mountain Province.
Before over forty (upland) and thirty (lowland) vegetable growers-beneficiaries, Ms. Ligaya Poled, HVCDP Provincial Coordinator, opened the program stressing the importance of local farmers’ involvement in the global trade. “Naay umali nan products from other countries dapay adi tako makapa-iparuar, sapay kuma datako kuma es mangib-kas sinan products tako isnan outside the Philippines (Asian counterparts are already exporting their goods to our country, so we should also compete with them in the global market), and we must also be aware of trends in the international market,” she stressed.
The training started with an introduction to the ASEAN 2017 by Ms. Cristeta Gamonnac, GAP Provincial Focal Person. She emphasized the role of each farmer in supporting the country’s current chairmanship of the ASEAN. GAP gives opportunities for farmers to market their products in bulk outside with the right certifications and with internationally competent practices. The fact is, these imported agricultural products are threatening to monopolize the Philippine market because our farmers are only selling and distributing locally, she explained.
Besides highlighting ASEAN integration, the resource speakers also discussed quality and food safety management, the cultural production of vegetables, 5S in Production, Philippine National Standards (PNS) and Good Agricultural Practices recommended for vegetable and fruits growers and finally how to apply for GAP certification. With this certification, the farmers were advised to note post-harvest logistics in their vegetable production where land, labor, capital and technology are to be closely evaluated.
From the GAP discussion on pesticides, one farmer from Tadian suggested reverting to cultural practices such as ground chili soaked in tobacco for pest elimination. But, their dilemma is harvest is very limited if the soil is too far gone with chemicals. Thus. Ms. Daisy Casiben, Agricultural Technician from Bauko, suggested that if there is a chance to go back to organic farming and use the traditional methods of farming, it is highly encouraged. The GAP does not totally prohibit the use of pesticides but it is recommended that farmers submit soil samples for soil analysis to determine the inputs needed for a bountiful harvest and avoid further degrading the soil. On this note, a participant from Sadanga cited the good practices of their farmers saying, “Actually idiay ayan mi ada ti kuna da nga pagsayaatan ket haan kami unay nga agusar ti chemicals (Actually, our local farmers try not to use chemicals as much as possible for our safety and for our consumers’ sake).” A resolution of the municipal council banning chemical pesticides is strictly followed by the farmers of Sadanga.
At the end of the seminar, Ms. Regina Panilas of OPAG who served as a facilitator for the whole the seminar gave the farmers opportunity to ask questions and share their impressions of the things they learned and their next actions they given the information gained from the presentations and discussions. The participants requested for community-based training so that more farmers can attend.
With ASEAN integration, the farmers are now highly motivated to apply for their GAP certifications to be able to trade in the international arena.
By Yna Capuyan