IDIS’ sustainable ecological farming

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Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) is an environmental non-government organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Davao’s watersheds. It has been registered as a non-profit organization with the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) since March 29,1999. It opposes the intensive pesticide use in monocrop agribusinesses since it pollutes and destroys water resources, the health of people and the environment. It is committed to empowering people in defense of their right to a clean and healthy environment.

Value

Organic agriculture is essential to a healthy watershed because its use of environment-friendly methods prevents the further contamination of our water resources. As a climate change mitigation strategy, organic agriculture reduces greenhouse gas emissions and traps carbon in the soil. Because it does not use synthetic and toxic chemicals, it enhances biodiversity and improves plants’ resilience to extreme climatic conditions. Because it is in line with the environment’s natural processes, organic agriculture ensures food safety and provides maximum health benefits to consumers.

Threats

Pesticide-intensive plantations continue to flourish in Mindanao. In particular, banana plantations still use small agricultural planes to apply toxic fungicide to their crops. The pesticide drift, dubbed as toxic rain, finds its way to communities near banana plantations, contaminating their water resources and leaving residues on backyard vegetable gardens. Children on their way to nearby schools are often exposed to the aerial spray.

The commercialization of genetically-modified crops likewise threatens the natural diversity of the local agricultural industry, often favoring multinational corporations and marginalizing local farmers who continue with their indigenous farming practices using native varieties. GMO crops increase pesticide use because they cause pesticide-resilient weeds and pests to emerge so farmers end up using an increased amount of toxic and expensive chemical fertilizers.

When GMO crops are introduced into the ecosystem, there is a significant risk of genetic contamination because GMOs contaminate the local gene pool of a watershed’s biodiversity. The stronger the pesticide, the longer it stays in the environment. Some chemicals which have been banned internationally do not degrade quickly and persist years later, raising concerns of long-term contamination in watersheds.

Solutions

  • Fully implement Davao City Organic Agriculture by setting up Davao City Organic Center and Organic Trade Outlets to encourage more farmers to continue/shift to organic with stable and accessible markets for their produce
  • Establish community seedbanks in agricultural districts to ensure farmers’ ownership and continuous supply of local seed varieties
  • Promote organic farming in urban districts by popularizing models and best practices in urban container gardening, community, and school-based gardens
  • Support calls for Davao City to be an organic food basket in Southern Mindanao by lobbying for local ordinances banning genetically-modified crops and products
  • Patronize local organic farmers market

Role of Organic Farmers

Farmers who practice organic farming in today’s profit-driven world is challenging. Environmental laws mandate government agencies to create enabling conditions to encourage organic farming. But these enabling conditions have yet to materialize even though the benefits of natural farming have long been proven. The advocacy and commitment of organic farmers to produce healthy and safe food for consumers beyond the immediate, economic benefits should be acknowledged. Without these dedicated farmers, the city will have no access to affordable, quality, healthy agricultural produce.

What has been done so far:

1. Exclusive Zone for Organic Farming. Davao City has declared Brgy. Sibulan as the city’s first organic zone, a designated area for organic farming to thrive, providing incentives to its farmer practitioners. The barangay is home to the largest concentration of areas practicing organic farming in Davao City, including third-party certified organic farms producing banana, cacao, and coffee for export to Japan. Read about the Ordinance here: http://idisphil.org/go-organic/local-policies-and-ordinances-on-organic-agriculture/.

  • PGS Summit and World Food Day Celebrations. Every year, special events to promote and encourage organic farming are conducted by the City Agriculturist Office and CSOs such as the Association of Davao Organic Farmers (ADOA). This includes the Participatory Guarantee System Summit and World Food Day celebrations in October and Organic Month celebration in November.
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