Small farmers and advocates in the province of Tarlac, are pursuing PGS or the Participatory Guarantee System, as alternative to the provision under section 17 of RA10068 otherwise known as Organic Agriculture Law, that says produce checked by Third Party Certification (TPC) are only the ones allowed to be labeled as organically produced . The label shall contain the name, logo or seal of organic certifying body and the accreditation number issued by the Bureau of Agriculture Fisheries Product standards ( BAFPS).
Farmers frowned at the exorbitant cost of Third party certification with a tag price ranging from P30-40 thousand pesos per crop valid for only one year. This amount is way beyond the purse of small farmers who have perennial problems accessing for even a small capital for production. Only rich farmers or corporations can afford Third Party certification. The provision has become a deterrent and disincentive for small chemical farmers comprising a large percentage of the farming populace to switch to organic farming.
The PGS which is now widely adhered to and accepted by international organic movements such as the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) and recognized even by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a pro-small farmer alternative to Third party certification. PGS is built on trust and integrity of the primary stakeholders, i.e., farmers and consumers who conduct the certification process themselves, through adherence to certification standards, guidelines, regulations and processes similarly observed by Third party certification.
SIBAT pushes for the PGS certification approach in the province and acts as the Secretariat of PGS Tarlac. It has given PGS trainings since 2014 and has come up with the operations manual and standards for vegetable production, certification process flow, roles and responsibilities of inspectors and quality control officers. To date, SIBAT has organized the formal structure of the PGS organization and is presently preparing to process applications in June 2015. By end of this year, PGS Tarlac will start producing farmers with organic certification in the province.