Establishing An Organic Agriculture Support Fund
Agriculture is the backbone of the Philippine economy, our farmers, its committed laborers. In the city of Alaminos, Pangasinan, wherein one of the main sources of livelihood is farming, Councilor Carol Sison ensured the economic safety of their farmers. A decade after its implementation, the establishment of an organic agriculture support fund helps alleviate the living conditions of its beneficiaries.
The said policy was created in support of the Organic Agricultural Act of 2010. Besides, Sison wanted to champion organic farming after thorough research of its benefits. Specifically, organically produced rice, vegetables, and high-value crops bring in more income to the farmers as they have higher prices compared to the commercially grown ones. Not only that, but they are environment-friendly as no chemical fertilizers will be used. Ultimately, it will ensure maximum health benefits to its consumers for its organic and chemical-free properties.
However, systematic changes cannot be accepted overnight, nor be embraced without data supporting its claims. As such, Sison consulted different farmers' associations and explained the objectives of the ordinance. At first, there were hesitations from the farmers, as they are used to the common and traditional commercial farming, not to mention their fear of consumers not buying their products for a relatively higher price. Nevertheless, Sison was able to exhibit the many advantages of organic farming: from its economic and environmental benefits to its advantages to consumers' health.
After gaining the support from the primary stakeholders, Sison then had to consider several conditions: if her fellow legislators in the council supported the ordinance, she would then have to think of the allocation of funds and the ordinance's sustainability, how much fund to allocate, and its sustainability. Having gained all these, plus the support of their local chief executive, Sison was able to lobby the ordinance and have it passed.
A decade after its implementation, several positive changes have been observed. Until today, with the constraints of the pandemic, the one million initial budget ten years ago was still properly allocated, as well as 60 farmers and their families were still committed to organic farming. Not only that but pre-pandemic, Sison made sure that the local government bridges the organic farmers to different buyers in the market. Stalls were always secured during trade fairs for the organic farmers, and the promise of capacity-building programs and financial assistance were also guaranteed. In addition, one of the feats of the ordinance, albeit unintended, is the creation and empowerment of the organic farmers’ association in Alaminos. Finally, it also encouraged the constituents to patronize organic produce.
Sison also noted that while some farmers resorted back to commercial farming due to the pandemic, the benefits still outweigh this unforeseen event. Towards the end, for our veteran legislator, having served Alaminos since 2011, a policymaker must be committed to their work, and that vested interests should play no role in their leadership.