THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it launched a quality assurance system offering low-cost certification for small farmers and fisherfolk to make their organic products more marketable.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), a feature of Republic Act (RA) 11511, which amended RA 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act, is intended to open doors to more agriculturists seeking to maintain a sustainable and environment-friendly organic operation.  

“The PGS will significantly reduce the cost of maintaining organic certification and actively involve our small farmers and fisherfolk with like-minded stakeholders and advocates of organic agriculture by maintaining the integrity of organic products available in the market,” Mr. Dar said in a statement.

According to the DA, the system certifies producers as active practitioners of organic agriculture, and serves as an alternative to third-party certification.  

It added that the PGS was developed by organic agriculture practitioners and encourages social networking and knowledge exchange.

“The new system also directly contributes to the farm consolidation (objective) of the DA and will increase the local availability of certified organic products of small and medium farmers… (freeing up) large-scale organic producers (to) shift to export markets,” Mr. Dar said.

“We need to ensure that small organic farmers and fisherfolk are not passive participants. We need to actively engage them in the implementation and give due recognition to their experience and expertise,” he added.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed RA 11511 on Dec. 23 with the intent of improving the national organic agriculture program and encourage the consumption of organic products with an educational awareness initiative for consumers.  

Aside from the creation of the PGS, the law also created the National Organic Agriculture Program — National Program Coordinating Office to manage the implementation of the program and serve as the planning and administrative secretariat of the National Organic Agriculture Board. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave