Organic Agriculture and Climate Responsibility in the Philippines

Fleur de Lys (Pinky) CASTELO-CUPINO, September 2017

Climate change negatively impacts on Philippine agriculture, a key component of the Philippine economy. At the same time, conventional agricultural methods, the mainstream farming method in the country, contributes to climate change by way of high carbon emissions.

This makes organic agriculture a viable climate change adaptation strategy because it leads to carbon sequestration reducing energy emissions through crop rotation and increasing biodiversity and soil fertility. In tune with responsible agricultural production, farmers’ cooperatives and entrepreneurs have implemented organic agriculture starting in the 1990s but most have just started in the last decade. The original intent of organic farmers is to provide a healthy alternative to insecticide and pesticide-infested conventional agricultural produce. But it turns out that organic farming is also earth friendly and can be developed into a climate change adaptation strategy.

To make organic farming sustainable, such enterprises should be financially viable. As of now, producers either export their products, market their products in groceries, have moved toward an online distribution system, or are developing a text-based marketing-distribution system direct to responsible households. The obstacle toward developing the organic market is the higher prices of organic produce compared with produce of conventional farming.

A 2011 research shows that organic agriculture can be financially rewarding, though. Farmers should try to resolve the dilemma on how to make organic agriculture sustainable and, at the same time, affordable to the large sectors of consumers. Government should also be involved in advocating for and supporting organic farming through incentives and financial support. Sustainability of organic farms also need the support and patronage of a responsible, healthy, and earth-friendly consumer base. This consumer movement can be developed from a strategic perspective.

This makes education on climate change and organic agriculture an important component of such a program. It is a positive development that the Department of Education, in charge of the country’s basic education is offering courses on climate change and sustainable development in its Grade 10 curriculum. The country’s agency in charge of technical and vocational education, the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority, is offering a course on organic agriculture production. Organic farming is a way to develop a healthy population and to mitigate the impact of climate change that need participation from responsible producers, responsible distributors, responsible consumers, responsible finance, and responsible government, among others.

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