City vet urges farmers to embrace good agri practices for food safety

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The City Veterinary and Agriculture Office (CVAO) Urban Agriculture Division continues to urge local farmers to upgrade to good agricultural practice (GAP) status to ensure the safety of their produce.
CVAO Supervising Agriculturist Marcelina Tabelin said the CVAO UAD is maintaining the conduct of inspections of farms and stalls at the Baguio City Public Market to monitor their compliance with GAP and food safety standards.
They check on farms every quarter to ensure that they are performing GAP especially on the proper use of synthetic pesticides.
As to their regulatory process, a joint monitoring team from CVAO and Bureau of Plant Industry-Plant Products Safety Services Division (BPI-PPSD) buys a sample either from vegetable and fruit sellers in the market or directly from the farmers.
The samples are analyzed at the BPI-Satellite Pesticide Analytical Laboratory (SPAL) in Guisad. Afterwhich, results are transmitted to the central office in Metro Manila for confirmation. The results (Certificates of Analysis) usually come back after a month, which makes it hard for the UAD to confiscate the goods, in case results are above the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs).
“Na consume na, hindi mo din siya pwedeng i-police or i-confiscate. Kaya ang kailangan talagang gawin is more on information, education, and communication campaigns (IECs) and capacity building among farmers na mag transition sila into good agricultural practices,” she said.
Tabelin said there are 14 PhilGAP-certified farms in the city and the laboratory test results of their harvest samples show that the pesticide residue found is even lower than the limit of quantification, which means that there is a very low amount or a very low concentration of pesticide’s active ingredient found in the samples.
In fact, vegetables and fruits that are sold in the market contain higher pesticide residue than the produce of PhilGAP-certified farmers based on laboratory tests.
Tabelin said the UAD is also offering annual training sessions for individuals interested to delve into the world of urban farming.
After these sessions, participants are encouraged to pursue Philippine Good Agricultural Practice (PhilGAP) accreditation which is a certification that ensures adherence to fundamental standards in agriculture.
PhilGAP accreditation signifies a commitment to upholding essential practices such as food safety, environmental responsibility, fair treatment of workers and ensuring product quality.
Upon accreditation, the CVAO UAD maintains oversight by conducting random inspections to ensure continued compliance with GAP standards, in coordination with the BPI-PPSSD.
Failure to uphold these practices may result in the revocation of accreditation for farmers who cease to adhere to GAP standards.
Tabelin encourages locals to learn about backyard farming and practice cleaning fruits and vegetables before consumption. For farmers, she suggested crop rotation to ensure that there will be no pest resistance and that different crops can still be profitable. **Iris Shantel Gutierrez and Aileen Refuerzo


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