Benguet State U starts developing organic agri program
Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) - July 11, 2013 - 11:28am

LA Trinidad, Benguet – The Benguet State University (BSU) has started developing an organic agriculture program as it braces for the stiffer competition in the agricultural industry with the Asian Free Trade Agreement taking effect in 2016.

Though already incorporated within the school’s curriculum that started in 2010, BSU president Dr. Ben Ladilad said they want to do more especially with the benefits that can be derived from the program, not only by Benguet province but the whole nation as well.

Benguet, popularly known as the “Salad Bowl” of the North, and its neighboring provinces rely mostly on agriculture.

THe BSU’s organic agriculture program is focused more on research and development to alleviate the effects of climate change on the province's agriculture industry.

In 2009, the Cordillera Organic Agriculture Development Center (COARDC) was launched and became the 6th research institution of the University.

According to COARDC Director Jose Balaoing, the program started with 10 students in 2010 who all graduated in 2012, becoming the first batch of certified organic agriculturists of the province.

For the school year 2013-2014, there are already 41 students enrolled in the program.

Detailing the importance of the organic agriculture program, Dr. Balaoing said that based on research, 90 percent of cancer cases in the provinces were caused by the use of fungicide on agricultural products, 60 from herbicides and 30 percent from insecticide.

“It’s basically the farmers handling methods and usage of these chemicals which causes these cancer ailments,” Balaoing said. “Without proper safety masks and clothing, they could accidentally inhale or come in contact directly with these toxic materials,” he added.

He added that because of the lack of information, unwary consumers who are unable to wash the crops properly before consuming them are also at high risks.

Aside from the hazards of consuming non-organic goods, Balaoing noted the biggest hurdle that farmers are facing in the near future.

“Our asian neighbors like South Korea and Japan have state of the art technology in terms of agricultural facilities while the country is just starting," he said.

AGRICULTURE ASIAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT BENGUET BENGUET STATE UNIVERSITY CORDILLERA ORGANIC AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT CENTER DIRECTOR JOSE BALAOING DR. BALAOING DR. BEN LADILAD SALAD BOWL SOUTH KOREA AND JAPAN
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