Some 85 Negrense farmers and farming associations earned PHP1.3 million in sales during the four-day 14th Negros Island Organic Farmers’ Festival (NIOFF) held at the Provincial Capitol grounds here from November 20-23.
Negros Occidental Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino yesterday said the festival is now institutionalized in the consciousness of the Negrenses as a major source of organic products and organic technology.
“Every year, new products are displayed which means that more producers are into organic farming and more people are visiting and buying organic products,” he added.
Senior agriculturist Dina Genzola said that while the festival showcased and promoted locally-produced organic and naturally-grown agricultural products, the event also helped enhance the capability of the farmers.
“The festival has empowered Negrense farmers as active partners of the provincial government in sustaining the status as the organic capital of the Philippines,” she added.
The annual festival has served as a venue for organic farmers to earn and tap more potential markets, Genzola said.
The 2019 edition included activities like talks and seminars on the health benefits of organic food; pest management strategy in growing organic vegetables; biological farming technologies and control of pest on crops; smallholder group orientation on organic certification; organic inland fish culture; value chain on organic coconut production; organic rice production using heirloom varieties; organic mushroom production; and demonstration on organic cooking.
Various competitions like on-the-spot poster making contest, organic quiz bee, organic product Olympics, and organic cooking contest were also held.
The provincial government also recognized outstanding organic practitioners, focal persons, local government units, and stakeholders.
Negros Occidental currently has more than 18,000 hectares of agricultural land, including livestock, devoted to organic farming. There are about 18,000 organic practitioners in the province.
This year’s festival was themed “Organic is LIFE: Love, Integrity, Fairness and Ecology”. (Erwin Nicavera pna via ndb)