Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban is urging agriculture authorities and farmers to stop the use of imported chemical fertilizers and pesticides, that degrade the soil and pose hazards to human health, and to shift instead to organic farming.
Pimentel said studies have shown that the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides makes the farm lands much too acidic and kills the microbes that by nature rehabilitate those lands over time.
He said it also depletes the country`s much-needed dollar reserves. In 2007, Philippines imported $300 million worth of chemical fertilizers and $l06 million worth of pesticides. Last year, the country bought $774 million worth of chemical fertilizer and $174 million worth of pesticides.
Pimentel said the technology to execute the mass production of organic fertilizer and to revive the soil, made dull and acidic by chemical fertilizers, has been available in the country since 1960. Moreover, he said there is no need to search abroad for equipment and the technical know-how for those ends.
"With scientific methods available, there are enough raw materials or solid wastes for us to manufacture compost fertilizers and pesticides for the production of our food needs," the senator from Mindanao said.
According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, there are about 300,000 tons of solid wastes that can be tapped for the organic fertilizer production.
Pimentel said the WorldWide Filipino Alliance, composed of overseas Filipinos, has offered to help get the country out of too much dependence on imported chemical fertilizer and pesticides.
The WFA, he said, plans to produce organic compost or biomass for use of the Filipino farmers. The group is led by June Aguilar, Cesar Torres, Cita Garcia, Kumen Comendador and Rudy Dianalan.
"The proposal is not weird or wild at all. Scientific studies abroad (Europe and Asia) released in the first quarter of 2009 indicated that the world population is assured of quality food from agriculture using organic compost of vermicast alone, and healthy food as well," he said.
The WFA wants to help barangays put up their own organic composting and vermiculture plants that can manufacture non-chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
"By doing so, WFA members believe that we heal the soil, eliminate the need to import fertilizers and pesticides and product health food for all," Pimentel said.
To enable the barangays to go into organic compost or vermiculture in a systemic and sustained manner, Pimentel said the following steps should be taken:
1.The barangays should accept and adopt the proposal; 2. The WFA should pilot-test the concept in selected barangays; 3. Congress should pass the laws to get the support of local government units for the conversion of bio-mass into vermicast-organic compost; 4. The government must help and create a local market for it; and 5. The plan should have the support of the Ecology Center in Quezon City.
Pimentel stressed that organic (garbage or biodegradable) waste must be properly managed. He said that if improperly handled, garbage attracts disease-carrying pests and insects. Flies are carriers of 12 disease potentials, roaches, 17; and rodents, 30.
"Expensive pesticides would then be needed to kill the pests. In the process, toxic residues find their way into our food that invariably render our people sickly that invariably render our people sickly. And to combat people`s diseases, we have to import expensive chemical-based drugs. Thus, the endless cycle of our people`s dependence on imported chemicals is established," Pimentel said.
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