• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
As the 16th Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival opened yesterday at the North Capitol Grounds in Bacolod City, Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson called for “adequate support and opportunities for farmers,” to advance organic farming.
“How will organic farming affect food production? How will it impact the profitability of our farmers’ businesses? These questions underscore the role of the government and stakeholders in providing adequate support and opportunities to our farmers,” Lacson stressed in his speech during an activity at the Negros Residences in Bacolod City.
“We need to empower and enable our farmers, making it our primary goal to enhance the market potential of our organic products,” he further stressed.
This year’s celebration, according to Lacson, “encompasses multifaceted programs aimed at enhancing our knowledge and methods, our dedication is crucial not just for the economic development of our island, but most of all, for the wellbeing of our communities, the mitigation of environmental destruction and the protection of the farmers, consumers and the general public.”
He added that the provincial government of Negros Occidental initiated the Organic Farming program “to counteract the adverse impacts of diminishing natural resources.”
“The promotion of organic agriculture will cumulatively condition and enrich the fertility of the soil, increase farm productivity, reduce pollution and environmental destruction, prevent the depletion of natural resources, further protect the health of farmers, consumers, and the general public, and save on imported farm inputs,” he also said.
Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez said Bacolod City “will promote food tourism as its tourism attraction,” stressing that the city government is ready to put up the needed infrastructure to host food producers in Bacolod.
Victorias City Mayor Javier Miguel Benitez, who chairs the Association of Chief Executives in Negros Occidental, emphasized the importance of food security.
The younger Benitez said the economic, health, and environmental potential of organic agriculture is “tremendous and far-reaching.”
The mayor said that if we listen to the discussions on food security, healthy living, and even food justice, “the foreshadowing solutions to these worldwide concerns can be positively found in transforming our commercial-driven farming methods into organic agriculture.”
“With enough supply of organically and ethically produced food, we will be able to address issues on equal access to food, no matter where the boundaries are, all over the world,” Benitez said.
He also stressed the need to excite the youth to get into agriculture as a way of life, pointing out that farmers are getting older.
It also concerns him that the number of enrollees in agricultural schools are dwindling and the alarm on the future of the country’s agricultural sector should have been sounded already.
“In as much as we are talking about new and better approaches and practices in the industry, a more effective food security program, or even efficient agricultural land use, we must also bring the discussion on the future workforce of this sector,” Benitez said.
We should make farming “cool, smart and sexy,” he added.*