Led by Faustino Salting, the banana growers organized themselves into a coalition and said that what is needed now to address the issue of food security and limited resources is utilize the benefits of science and technology in increasing the yield of food that is safe.
The best way to do it, he says, is for them to accept good agricultural practice (GAP) that goes with Science-based Agriculture for Farm Enhancement (SAFE).
Salting noted that "science-based agriculture is an international practice of producing safe and affordable produce efficiently year-round, with the help of products and practices that enhance the productivity and performance of farms, while maintaining the quality of the product until it reaches the consumer."
The forum, organized by Initiative for Farm Advocacy and Resource Management (IFARM), CropLife Philippines and Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), was supported by the Davao del Norte provincial government.
Salting leads a group of approximately 3,000 banana growers along while Jose Daigdigan Sr. is at the helm of a network of 100 farmer-growers. The coalition has assigned Betty Francia to act as secretary.
Bobby Ramos, Juliet Ariete, Engr. Cicero G. Tiamzon, Dominador Encarnacion and Edmund Marcelo also backed SAFE.
Tiamzon is a Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) while Encarnacion is the provincial agriculturist of Davao del Norte.
The coalition stressed that Philippine agriculture must comply with the standards of GAP, including the safe and judicious use of crop protection products.
"SAFE is a way of thinking about how to scientifically farm the land with more cost-efficient methods and most productive results even as continuing research and discoveries guide the world to even much better, safer and more beneficial technologies," it said.
Salting stressed that the coalition believes that farmers must opt for sustainable agriculture, and all farming activities today must ensure "the ability of future generations to likewise produce and enjoy a sustaining environment."
He added: "Agriculture, in order to be sustainable, must be economically viable and socially acceptable and must exhibit concern for the environment and the general health of the community."
The coalition urged local government units (LGUs) to inspect and enforce laws relevant to the safe practice of agriculture even as it urged producers and stakeholders, including growers, exporters and marketers to police their ranks and stick to GAP guidelines.
It also asked the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA) to perform its regulatory functions strictly enforce the law on farm inputs, and ensure that such inputs conform with GAP guidelines.
Moreover, the coalition resolved to propagate scientific information among farmers in order for them to know completely the advantages of SAFE while building partnerships and networks to enhance the practice of science-based agriculture. (iFARM)