UPLB holds 2nd Organic Agriculture Fair
UPLB holds 2nd Organic Agriculture Fair
by Christine Joy B. Manalo

The UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center on Organic Agriculture (IdSC-OA) and the Agricultural Systems Institute of the College of Agriculture and Food Science (ASI-CAFS) recently hosted a vibrant celebration of sustainable organic farming during the 2nd Organic Agriculture (OA) Fair last March 06, 2024.

The event, held at the picturesque grounds of the Organic Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDEC), brought together farmers, students, researchers, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders and enthusiasts to once again showcase the innovations and initiatives in organic agriculture.

Present at the event were Dr. Bernadette San Juan, director of the Department of Agriculture-National Organic Agriculture Program; Elizabeth Gregorio, OA focal person from DA-CALABARZON; Raymond Patrick Cabrera, head of the Program Development Division of the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research; and Simonette Lim, chief of staff of the Office of Congresswoman Ruth Hernandez of the 2nd District of Laguna.

Representing Chancellor Jose V. Camacho, who gave his congratulatory message to the organizers, was Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs Roberto Cereno.

Dean Elpidio Agbisit Jr. of the College of Agriculture and Food Science and Dr. Rodmyr F. Datoon, director of ASI-CAFS, formally opened the event.

The presence of the guests underscored the commitment of government agencies and academicians to promote organic farming practices and support the growth of the organic agriculture sector.

Over 650 participants participated in, and learned valuable insights from, the different activities of the whole-day OA Fair.

One of the standout segments of the fair was the OA sa Galing: Voices from OA Advocates and Practitioners.

OA Sa Galing featured the sharing of experiences from four resource persons. These were “Ang OA na Farmer: Experiences and Lessons in OA Farming” by Alice Valdoria, president of the Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Tayabas sa Yamang Organiko (SAMATAYO); “Ang OA na Entrep: Linking OA Farmers to the Market” by Cherrys Abrigo, founder of SIERREZA; “Certified OA!! I-PGS na: Making Certification Accessible to OA Farmers” by Suzette Sales, chairperson of the Samahan ng Organikong Industriya ng Laguna (SOIL) Agriculture Cooperative; and “Ang Mga Kabataang OA: Sharing of Experiences of the Los Baños National Science High School in Educating the Youth on OA” by Evangeline Austria, Gulayan sa Paaralan coordinator of Los Baños Senior High School.

Key takeaways from these speakers were prioritizing health by consuming organically produced vegetables and meat, fostering cooperation and linkages among government agencies, merchants, and farmers, sustaining organic farms by applying for certification, and involving the youth in organic agriculture.

The fair also featured cooking demonstrations using organic and natural ingredients. Chef Bon Ryan Ebron impressed the audience with his rendition of “Kakiage.” Rommel Bailey showcased his flavorful Tofu Sisig made from fresh organic soybean and organic eggplant.

In addition, the fair served as a platform to delve into the seven learning modules offered by OARDEC: aromatic garden, medicinal garden, organic vegetable garden, organic soil amendments, integrated crop-animal system, agroforestry, and kids’ garden. The immersive tours of the modules provided participants with firsthand insights into organic agriculture’s diverse and sustainable landscapes.

The fair was sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development; Lifebank Microfinance Foundation, Inc; Department of Agriculture Region IV-A CALABARZON; Office of Congresswoman Ruth M. Hernandez, Representative of the 2nd District of Laguna; and the Local Government Unit of Los Baños, Laguna.

The 2nd OA Fair showcased the growing movement behind organic farming, highlighting the potential for sustainable agriculture to address food security challenges and fostering awareness, innovation, and collaboration within the farming community.

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