DAVAO CITY – If you are among the market goers at the Friday Organic Market at the Rizal Park here in the city, start looking for the Participatory Guarantee System or PGS logo as the City Agriculturist’s Office is set to enforce organic certification for the organic sellers in the weekly market.

Go Organic Davao City (GODC) explained that the PGS logo ascertains the products sold by the seller are certified organic by a peer network of organic farmers.

GODC said the PGS branding is part of the implementation of the city’s Organic Agriculture Ordinance and will have long-term benefits for the Dabawenyos and the environment.

“The organic certification is meant to ensure that the fruits and vegetables that local consumers are buying at the Friday Organic Market have been produced following the Philippine National Standards on Organic Agriculture.”, said GODC member and Interface Development Interventions Advocacy Coordinator Chinkie Pelino.

In 2014, the CAO and local farmers group launched the Davao City PGS, a coalition which supports the practice and implementation of participatory guarantee system (PGS), an alternative product certification system which is believed to be “more beneficial and appropriate to local and smallholder organic production.”

“The PGS is a second-party organic certification which is designed for the domestic market. It levels the playing field so that small farmers can participate in the organic market without spending huge amounts for certification fees,” said Nena Morales, chair of PGS Davao, the multisectoral committee which trains farmers and oversees the implementation of the PGS system.

Compared with the third-party certification system, where a government-accredited body is paid of its services in inspecting and certifying a farmer’s produce, the PGS system involves a multisectoral inspection team including farmers, consumers and other sectors.

Masipag said “the PGS team can even be a trained team of farmer-inspectors who goes to other communities and farmers’ organizations to inspect, monitor and certify the organic production system.”

With only minimal fees given to the PGS team, the PGS is an inexpensive certification system for farmers and small-scale producers.

Currently, PGS Davao has nine PGS certified farmers, four of whom are regular sellers at the weekly Friday Organic Farmers Market.

Morales said that other sellers in the market are still in the process of complying with the requirements.

Morales said the PGS Davao will be assisting those who are yet to process their organic certification.

“If they are able to pass the inspections, they will be allowed to return to the market,” Morales said.

Pelino added that organic farmers who are PGS-certified “will not pass on their certification expenses to the consumer, allowing for more affordable organic produce.”

“Keeping prices down will also mean that more and more Dabawenyos will be able to eat healthy and safe foods,” she said.

The group also believes that the certification will encourage more farmers to shift to organic farming.
“This is important because more than providing food security, widespread organic farming is also beneficial in maintaining the integrity of our watersheds,” said Pelino.(davaotoday.com)

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