Farmers Employing Organic Agriculture Methods Train for ICS
Farmers, community organizers, agricultural extension workers and the Local Government Unit of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte joined together to install an Internal Control System (ICS) on organic agriculture for the organic agriculture practitioners in the municipality. Agricultural Training Institute – Regional Training Center X (ATI – RTC X) conducted the training on ICS for Smallholder Groups at Dona Laureana Rosales School of Practical Agriculture.
The installation of the ICS is a requirement for organic third party certification. Its role is to be an official “control body” which implies that certain basic requirements for organic inspection need to be fulfilled. Likewise, similar production methods and inputs are used on all farm plots belonging to the group.
Standard inspection protocols are integral for the implementation of ICS. The installation of ICS for smallholder group include the following requirements: (1) written procedures and forms (ICS manual), (2) understanding risk assessment and critical control points, (3) internal organic standards, (4) internal control and approval procedures, (5) organized group structure, (6) human resource training and development schemes and (7) established product protocol, among others. Participants to the training were upland rice farmers, peanut growers, vegetable farmers, and community organizers. Each of the participant has a vital role in the installation of the ICS.
The training has four phases. Phase 1 focuses on the installation requirements and comprehensive appreciation of the principles of organic agriculture and the elements of ICS. Phase 2 involves the training of the ICS staff; Phase 3 is the On-the-Job training for members of the ICS, while Phase 4 focuses on the evaluation of the ICS. It aims to determine the completion and readiness of the organization for application for certification.
Topics included the Salient points and Relevant Regulations of RA 10068, Philippine National Standards (PNS) on Organic Agriculture, Organic Certification, Smallholder Group Certification, Internal Control System (ICS) & steps in Installing, Procedures, Forms and Processes, Internal Report Integration, Internal Approval, ICS Documentation, and a Workshop on the ICS manual, among others. A visit to the Aga Sayo Diversified Farm highlighted the training where a mock inspection for organic certification was done. Aga Sayo Farm is a beneficiary of the “From Arms to Farms Program” of ATI.
Participant Peter M. Jubas was very thankful that he was invited to the training. “This training will help me a lot. It is not easy to have an ‘organic’ certified product. I understand that we need to undergo a tedious process, but, at least, we are taking steps to have our products certified as ‘organic’,” he said. “With the help of our ever-supportive LGU, we know we can do this,” he added.
The Municipal Government of Kauswagan is a member of the League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities and Cities in the Philippines (LOAMC – PH) and Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado is currently the President of the organization.
Source: League of Organic Agriculture Municipalities, Cities and Provinces of the Philippines (LOAMC Philippines)