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Organic products center in Baras, Rizal launched
The first organic town of the Philippines and the organic farming capital of Rizal province is Baras. Baras townsfolk beam with pride when the town's center for organic products and services was launched to signal its opening last July 13, 2009.
By: UP Los Baños
The launching of the Baras OPC is a project of the Organic Vegetable Project co-implemented by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) spearheaded by the Agricultural Systems Cluster (ASC) of the UPLB-College of Agriculture with the article writer as project leader and Dr. Edna Luis A. Matienzo as site coordinator. This is in collaboration with the Kasamahan sa Kalikasang Pagsasaka Multipurpose Cooperative (KAKASA-MPC)
The products put on sale in the OPC include organic vegetables, rice and fruits. It also sells farm inputs like organic fertilizers, fermented foliar spray, botanical pest spray, vegetable seedlings and open pollinated vegetable seeds. On the other hand, the services offered to the public include training on organic farming, farm tours, study visits, a reading corner and technical advising.
To ensure the regular supply of organic products sold in the center, a 1.5 ha communal organic vegetable production area is maintained by the KAKASA-MPC in addition to the individual backyard farms cultivated by KAKASA members. The production area showcases organic farming technologies developed by UPLB and other agencies.
This UPLB-NEDA project started in October 2007, and until now has been providing series of training courses, seminars and study tours for KAKASA organic vegetable growers. UPLB-CA technologies promoted to walk-in visitors in the center include the propagation of earwigs as biological pest control; production of tea manure, fermented plant and fruit juices as liquid fertilizers and plant growth promoters; production of open-pollinated vegetable seeds; organic vegetable seedling nursery management, proper postharvest handling of organic vegetables; use of Bio-N and MycoVam to enhance plant-soil nutrient management.
The 2-year project has been done in cooperation with the local government of Baras, Department of Trade and Industry of Rizal, and the Department of Agriculture Region IV-A. The project got funding support from the NEDA IV-A and the RP-Japan Grant Assistance for Underprivileged Farmers (KR2). This KR2 project is simultaneously being implemented in Tayabas, Quezon with Ms. Myrna A. Tenorio as site coordinator. The third project site will soon be established in Bauan, Batangas.
The OPC launching was witnessed by UPLB Vice-Chancellor Dr. Enrico P. Supangco; Ms. Mara Pardo De Tavera, Managing Director of Mara's Organic Market (MOM) and president of the Organic Producers and Trade Association (OPTA), Phils; Regional Director Severino C. Santos, OIC of the NEDA Region IV-A; Provincial Director Mercedes A. Parreño of the DTI, Rizal ; Mayor Wilfredo C. Robles of Baras and Mr. Eduardo Espinola, Chair of KAKASA MPC.
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UP Los Baños is the Philippines premier research university in the areas of agriculture, biotechnology, engineering, environment, alternative energy and climate change.