QUEZON CITY -- The Philippines, through the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS), is the lead country for the development of ASEAN Standard for Organic Agriculture (ASOA). The development of the ASOA started from 2013 to 2015 aiming to have common requirements among the ASEAN Member States (AMS) in organic production. The standard provides the minimum requirements for plants (including mushroom) production, wild harvest (excluding honey), post-harvest, processing, handling, storage, transport and labelling of organic produce, and processed products.

 In order to facilitate trade in the ASEAN Region, the AMS will have to align their national standard/s for organic agriculture to the ASOA. The DA-BAFS has been hosting workshops, and served as Chair and technical secretariat since 2015 in order for the AMS to assess the alignment of the national standards with the ASOA. The Philippines, being in the forefront of this initiative, has fully aligned the Philippine National Standard for Organic Agriculture (PNS-OA) with the ASOA.

Figure 1. Delegates from the ASEAN Member States (AMS) present during the Equivalence Assessment of the National Standards of the AMS against the ASEAN Standard for Organic Agriculture (ASOA) with the Philippines as the Chair and Secretariat, and Indonesia, being the host country, as the Vice-Chair.

 

Figure 2. Plenary session during the Equivalence Assessment of ASEAN Member States Standards against ASOA last 20-22 April 2015 in Bali, Indonesia. 

Another endeavor being led by the DA is the development of ASEAN guide for organic certification (AGOC). This activity is one of the steps towards attainment of the objective of the Strategic Thrust 2: Enhance Trade Facilitation, Economic Integration and Market Access of the Plan of Action (PoA) for the ASEAN Cooperation on Organic Agriculture, which is to harmonize accreditation, inspection, and certification requirements within the ASEAN region, thus, enabling the recognition of equivalence. The ASEAN Guide will serve as guidelines and references for certification of organic agriculture products among the AMS. The ASEAN Guide was drafted and deliberated during the first workshop held in Alabang, Muntinlupa City last November 2016, as well as during the 2nd workshop held in Bangkok, Thailand last 1-2 March 2017, and was agreed upon by the AMS present during the workshops to be endorsed for approval during the Experts Working Group for Organic Agriculture (EWG-OA) meeting on 16-18 March 2017 in Lao PDR.

Figure 3. Plenary session during the 1st workshop for the development of ASEAN Guide for Organic Certification (AGOC) with delegates from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Thailand. The ASEAN Secretariat and the Principal Advisor of the ASEAN-German Project on Standards in the Southeast Asian Food Trade (SAFT) were also present 

.

Figure 4. Group photo of the delegates of the 1st workshop for the development of AGOC from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Thailand, representative of the ASEAN Secretariat, and the Principal Advisor of the ASEAN-German Project on Standards in the Southeast Asian Food Trade (SAFT)

These endeavors provide the Philippines advantage in the trade facilitation among the ASEAN region when it comes to trade and market access of Philippine organic products. This will also provide us relevant information and technological innovations on organic agriculture among the ASEAN member states.