THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) said it plans to make labels detailing pesticide use in fruit and vegetables a permanent feature in their marketing, in order to develop awareness of safer growing practices.

At a mass labeling exercise for pesticide residue-safe fruit and vegetables at the Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal on Sept. 4, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar directed DA High Value Crops Development Program Director U-Nichols A. Manalo and DA Region 2 Executive Director Narciso A. Edillo to draft a memorandum order for all regions to adopt pesticide labeling practices.

Mr. Dar said the order also hopes to improve research into biopesticides and organic pesticides.

“The judicious use of synthetic pesticides is a must, similar to the application of fertilizers to avoid destroying the soil. We have to be more guided by science and technology,” Mr. Dar said.

Mr. Dar also encouraged local government units (LGUs) to ensure sufficient volumes of safe food in their jurisdictions ahead of the implementation of the Mandanas ruling devolving more National Government functions to LGUs.

The ruling, set to take effect in 2022, will give LGUs a bigger share of national taxes, but also an increased role in performing functions formerly carried out at national level.

He added that the DA will only provide technical support and services, while leadership will be taken on by LGUs.

“(It is the) joint responsibility (of) the National Government and the local government to see to it that the food that we eat is safe. We are not only pushing for enough food, but also for food safety,” Mr. Dar said.

At the mass labeling exercise on Sept. 4, the DA said safety labels and certificates were awarded to farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCA) that completed good agricultural practices training. The FCAs also met the DA’s food safety norms for residue and aflatoxin. 

FCAs engaged in vegetable growing were given biological control agents, rapid test kits, planting materials, and crates.

Mr. Dar also announced that FCAs will be priority beneficiaries of DA assistance. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave