Over two hundred food producers, processors and entrepreneurs participated in ONE Mindanao: Organic and Natural Expo, held at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang, Davao City. The expo is designed to raise awareness on the locally-sourced organic and natural products in the market.
The event's opening day on March 17th was graced by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Senator Cynthia Villar. Also at the event were Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Bernadette Puyat, and DA-11 Director Ricardo Oñate Jr.
Products varied from food and ingredients, to indigenous weaves and fibers. After banging the gong to signal the official opening of the event, President Duterte inspected fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, colored rice, natural sweeteners, artisan chocolates, single-origin coffee, dairy products, and clothes made of traditional weaves and natural fibers.
The DA aims to facilitate trade between farmers, consumers and institutional buyers of organic products. Piñol said that this event is a prelude to the island-wide organic and natural expos scheduled for Visayas in 2019, and Luzon in 2020.
Senator Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on agriculture and food, stressed the benefits of choosing organic products. According to her, about 38% of the soil is degraded with the use of chemical pesticides and petroleum-based fertilizers.
Acknowledging the higher price point of organic products, the senator is optimistic that the price will reduce if more farmers venture into organic farming. Villar mentions that natural fertilizer is even cheaper than the chemical ones. One way of producing safe and organic fertilizers is through vermicasting, the processing of organic wastes using earthworms.
The government supports use of natural fertilizers and provides composting facilities. Organic farming can also help keep farmers stay healthy.
The expo runs from March 17-19, 2018.