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Over 1,200 delegates joins the 6th Organic Asia Congress in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte


By Ercel Maandig

Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte-Started on June 5 with some side events, the 6th Organic Asia Congress kicked off here Wednesday bringing together participants from 31 countries , marking the first time that so many countries and areas have gathered in the town.

There are over 1,200 delegates, of which 253 are from other countries.

In his message, the host Mayor Rommel Arnado expressed his overwhelming gratitude for the participants’ interest in his hometown and the progress achieved through the “From Arms to Farms” program. He highlighted the program’s aim to achieve food security and eliminate hunger through peace-building efforts. Former rebel commanders now play a vital role in maintaining peace and prosperity in his town, contributing to the town’s success.

The congress serves as a platform to showcase the achievements and impact of organic agriculture in Kauswagan and beyond. Mayor Arnado stressed the importance of breaking down misconceptions about organic products and promoting their health benefits. By unifying their efforts, the municipality aims to play a bigger role in the global stage of organic agriculture.

Senator Mark Villar commended Mayor Arnado’s leadership and the municipality’s progress in organic agriculture. He highlighted the significance of the From Arms to Farms program, which empowers former combatants and members of armed groups to engage in organic farming, fostering peace and conflict resolution.

The congress also featured distinguished speakers presenting their research and experiences on topics such as innovation, social inclusiveness, and organic rice production. Participants were encouraged to make the most of the numerous sessions and discussions planned throughout the event.

National Organic Agriculture Program Director Bernadette San Juan expressed optimism about the congress’s success and urged attendees to maximize their time to learn about organic agriculture. She emphasized the importance of organic farming in ensuring the welfare of the public, the environment, and farmers’ livelihoods.

Secretary Maria Belen Sunga Acosta of the Mindanao Development Authority highlighted the favorable conditions in Mindanao for organic farming and its potential to contribute to the region’s economic growth. She stressed the link between organic agriculture, food security, and peace-building, emphasizing the need for collaboration and understanding among stakeholders.

Zamzamin Ampatuan, Undersecretary of the National Organic Agriculture Board, expressed his appreciation to Mayor Arnado and commended the municipality’s dedication to organic agriculture. He emphasized the crucial role of local leaders in advancing the advocacy for organic agriculture and achieving food security.

The 6th Organic Asia Congress promises to be a fruitful platform for exchanging knowledge, strategies, and experiences in organic agriculture. Participants from various sectors, including government agencies, private institutions, and organizations, aim to drive transformative change and build a sustainable future for all.

The book launch of From Arms to Farms coffee table book was held showcasing the inspiring story of the municipality’s organic transformation and its significant impact on peace-building and sustainable development. The book serves as a testament to Kauswagan’s remarkable journey from a town plagued by conflict and poverty to a thriving model of organic agriculture and social harmony. It chronicles the challenges faced by the community and the transformative initiatives undertaken to promote organic farming as a means to achieve lasting peace. It showcased through over 300 photographs of the municipality’s remarkable metamorphosis into a secure, food-sufficient, and sustainable community.

As the congress continues, discussions include the vital role of women in strengthening organizations and ensuring food security during the pandemic, promoting organic agriculture through development processes and policy incentives, local food consumption initiatives, sustainable farm ecosystems, organic farming as a platform for dialogue, rural enterprise development, rural revitalization programs, food security through organic home gardens, agrotourism, organic school meals, organic farming experiences, achieving a sustainable and organic island, the Slowfood Movement, organic pesticide use, successful insecticide-free rice production, nanotechnology innovations in organic farming, economic and social initiatives for small-scale farmers, empowering saffron farmers through certification, pest and weed management in rice cultivation, innovations in organic tea production, and climate-resilient organic paddy seed development.

The Organic Asia Congress serves as a testament to the growing importance of organic agriculture in promoting food security, peace-building, and sustainable development, and it provides an opportunity for participants to learn from one another and strengthen networks within the organic agriculture community.

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