Dalaguete farmers seek GAP certification

By: Vanessa Claire Lucero December 27,2015 - 11:09 PM

A vendor wraps a freshly harvested cabbage at a trading center in Mantalongon, Dalaguete town in southern Cebu. (CDN FILE PHOTO)

A vendor wraps a freshly harvested cabbage at a trading center in Mantalongon, Dalaguete town in southern Cebu. (CDN FILE PHOTO)

A group of farmers is seeking Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification from the Department of Agriculture to be able to compete under an integrated economy in Southeast Asia.

“Kung dili mi certified sa GAP, maglisod mi’g compete sa Asean integration (if we are not GAP certified, we will have difficulty competing in the Asean integration),” said Jose Dizon Ancla, vice president of Dalaguete Vegetable Growers Association-Our Food (DAVEGA).

Ancla, an organic vegetable farmer, said the Asean integration will bring cheaper organic produce to the local market.

These fruits and vegetables are expected to be already certified for food safety, he said, and will be found in supermarkets.

He said this will definitely cause problems for local producers of fruits and vegetables, because consumers prefer food that is certified to be safe and organic.

“Ang mga farmer nga wala ni-certify, dili na siguro dawaton sa mga dako nga supermarket. Diha nalang siguro sila kutob sa mga wet market (Produce from farmers without certification may not be accepted in big supermarkets. They’ll only be in wet markets),” he said.

Between 180 and 200 DAVEGA farmers are expected to receive certification by the end of the year or by first quarter of 2016.

The farmers are from the southern town of Dalaguete, which is known as Cebu’s vegetable basket.

Funding the certification process is Germany’s AFOS Foundation for Entrepreneurial Development Cooperation.

With the certification, Ancla said the farmers can rightfully say their produce is safe. They can also attest to the traceability of their produce.

To be GAP Certified, farmers have to have their farms checked by a third party several times.

The process itself is nitpicky, with standards to meet not only for the process of farming but also for cleanliness of farm, record keeping and other categories.

Farmers also have to pay P25,000 for the certification. While this is subsidized by the government, they will only be refunded after they receive certification.

“If they don’t get certified, they won’t get the refund. Ang kanang normal nga farmer, asa man sad siya anang kwartaha? P25,000 is big money. Lisod kaayo. Kung ganahan ang gobyerno nga ma-competitive mi, kung ganahan sila nga ma-certify mi, ayaw mi lisod-lisoda intawn (Where can an average farmer get that kind of money? It’s very difficult. If the government wants us to be more competitive and to certify, please don’t make it difficult for us),” Ancla said.

He said Cebuano farmers have been lagging behind in terms of certification. Most of the farmers he knows who are certified are from Negros, which is being actively promoted as an organic producer.

Ancla said more farmers are encouraged to “go organic” to be able to compete against the organically grown imports.

“Organic is definitely more competitive,” Ancla said. “The principle in organic is microbial. You enhance the soil with good bacteria and the soil grows the product.”

With organic certification and GAP certification, farmers can also be part of FairTrade, and earn more.

“Kaming mga farmers, naningkamot mi nga makatabang mi sa isig-usa namo. Kani nga information, amo sad ni gihatag sa among mga DAVEGA members (We farmers strive to help fellow farmers. This information is also passed on to other DAVEGA members),” he said.

Ancla, an engineer by profession, began farming in 2010. Currently, he has four farms – two each in Mantalongon and Barangay Tabon. He now works full time with his wife maintaining the farms.

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TAGS: certification, Dalaguete, Department of Agriculture, farmers

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