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Agricultural Biodiversity: International Agreements and Local Actions PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 21:06
Table of Contents
The Philippines’ Department of Agriculture (DA) has promulgated various policies that dovetail with the CBD objectives of conservation, sustainable use, and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources.

In 2005, Executive Order (EO) No. 481 mandating the establishment and implementation of a National Organic Agriculture Program by the National Organic Agriculture Board was issued. This was followed two years after by EO No. 29 or the DA-Sustainable Agriculture Development Program which is implemented in partnership with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace. Moreover, provincial local government units are encouraged to pass local resolutions to further strengthen these national policies. The provinces of Bohol, Negros Oriental and Occidental, and Marinduque are some of the provinces that have resolutions to support organic farming and sustainable agriculture and, in some cases, ban the entry of GM crops into their areas.

The DA, through its different agencies and bureaus, also undertakes several projects and researches aimed at conserving and promoting sustainable use of agrobiodiversity. The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) has a project promoting indigenous crops through techno- demo farms, while the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards (BAFPS), Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), and Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) are also embarking on projects and researches on organic and/or sustainable agriculture.  For the country’s animal genetic resource, the BAI implements several activities to improve cattle, swine, and small ruminant genetics. It also developed strategies for genetic improvement such as the Unified National Artificial Insemination Program that synchronizes all breeding programs and activities to carry out genetic improvement in large ruminants through artificial insemination. Researches by BAI include the characterization of different strains of Philippine native goats through electrophoresis and other research and development directed towards the establishment of a policy environment that would promote development of the local carabao industry, among others (BAI, 2003). The DA also collaborates with the DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) on many of the aforementioned projects and researches.

As the focal agency for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), BSWM has implemented different projects on soil conservation, crop varietal improvement, and organic agriculture. A relevant project being implemented under the context of UNCCD is the Agri-Kalikasan” (Agri-Nature) Program. This program is a science-based back-to-basics sustainable agriculture and rural development program that advocates organic-based farming guided by scientific principles. Also under the UNCCD, the National Action Plan to Combat Desertification, Land Degradation, Drought and Poverty (NAP) was formulated and endorsed by the heads of various national departments to ensure its proper implementation. Furthermore, the NAP was integrated to the Medium Term Public Investment Program for 2004-2010 of the DA and other agencies are now mainstreaming it into their own regular budgets (ACB, 2006).

In 2006, the Philippines ratified the Cartagena Protocol, a supplementary agreement to the CBD that seeks to protect biodiversity from the potential risks posed by genetically modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. Implementation of the Protocol entails the cooperation of various stakeholders, including those from government such as the DENR, DA, DOST and the Department of Health (DOH). In the same year, Executive Order No. 514 establishing the National Biosafety Framework (NBF) of the Philippines was issued providing guidelines for its implementation, strengthening the National Biosafety Committee of the Philippines and for other purposes. Along with other regulations, the NBF is expected to support implementation of the Protocol.

Aside from the UNCCD and Cartagena Protocol, the Philippines also ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) in 2006. The objectives of the Treaty are similar to that of the CBD but focuses on plant genetic resources important to food and agriculture. The DA has yet to implement programs to support implementation of the Treaty. 

Finally, the Philippines’ own Ifugao Rice Terraces was included as one of the pilot sites in the FAO project on Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GHIAS). The project aims to establish the basis for global recognition, conservation and sustainable management of such systems and their associated landscapes, biodiversity, knowledge systems and cultures. Aside from heritage conservation, the GIAHS project will also conserve and manage biodiversity in the form of traditional agricultural systems practiced in the site thus complementing the CBD objectives. 

To a certain extent, agricultural biodiversity considerations have been included in the country’s socio-economic blueprint, the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) 2004-2010. In the agribusiness section, biodiversity is considered to have the potential to provide additional livelihood in the agriculture sector.

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Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2009 13:11
 

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