Organic certification assures the consumers that the foods they are buying are indeed grown organically and free from synthetic farm inputs. It also promotes the over-all food and nutrition security of the country and assures the farmers/producers of a premium price for their organic produce.
Organic certification is needed to ensure that products labeled as “organic” are produced and handled in accordance with specified organic standards. Certification creates trust in organic labeling and promotes fair competition in the market place. It can improve overall performance, remove uncertainty and widen market opportunities for farmers. However, certification cost is an added expense for the farmers who will consider the third party certification and might be a barrier for their conversion to organic production.
To create a level playing field for organic producers and support the small farmers, the government decided to subsidize the cost of organic certification for a certain category of producers. Certification subsidy is being mandated in the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 (RA No 10068) where Full Certification Cost Support Program supports the organic agriculture entities/ farmers and organic input producers, provided, that they meet the following criteria:
1. An individual farmer or an organized group accredited with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), as may be applicable
2. Enterprise classified as micro, small and medium (MSME);
3. Processor engaged in local organic food and input production
4. Applicants must be compliant with the applicable Philippine National Standard for Organic Agriculture
The subsidy is being administered through the Regional Field Offices (RFO) and covered the Application, Inspection, Certification Fee and Laboratory costs for three successive years. The producer/farmer will apply post- certification to the RFO, which assesses and decides on the application. The subsidy is on a reimbursement basis. Payment is made by the RFO to the Certifying Body CB) and CB then reconciles this payment with the farmer/producer. Reimbursement ranges from P50, 000 (US$ 1000) to P165, 000 (US$ 3300) depending on the number of scopes and whether the operator is an individual or a group.
Organic certification and inspection covers the whole product chain and production system from farm production to processing and trading. This chain/system will be evaluated according to the Philippine National Standard (PNS) and certification requirements of the Certifying Body.
The objective is basically to:
1. Determine the extent of conformity of the farmer/operator’s management system, or parts of it, with the standards & certification requirements
2. Evaluate the effectiveness of the organic management system
3. Identify areas for potential improvement