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History of OCCP

In 1996, a consultation process involving FOODWEB (an informal network of sustainable agriculture advocates) was conducted in three regions of the Philippines and at the national level to submit the draft “Philippine Basic Standards for Organic Agriculture and Processing,” the starting point of any national certification program. Key Philippine members of IFOAM-Asia who participated in the IFOAM-Asia conference in Korea spearheaded this consultation. Funding for this activity was partly funded by local groups and MISEREOR.

In November 1999, the Philippine organic movement found opportunity to consolidate itself through its successful hosting of the 4th International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) Asia Scientific Conference and General Assembly in Tagaytay City, of which was CITEM was the over-all secretariat. Over 400 local organic and sustainable agriculture advocates and 90 delegates from Asia and Europe attended the conference.

Key organic industry players identified one major concern of the present Philippine organic sector: it does not have the capability to establish and implement a Certification and Inspection Program. The hosting of the event managed to pool financial resources of different support groups and has provided the initial seed money for the establishment of a National Certification and Inspection body.

To pursue the development of the organic sector for export, CITEM took the initiative to spearhead the establishment of the Organic Certification and Inspection Program. In February 2000, a consultation meeting with key organic players attended by AVDF, OPTA, FOODWEB, and MASIPAG was held. During the meeting, it was unanimously agreed that there is a need to implement a comprehensive training program because of the growing local market and export members of the Organic Technical Working Committee (OTWC). Representation in the OTWC later expanded to include Rizal Dairy Farms, Herbana Farms, Gratia Plena, AGTALON, and PDAP.

In September 2000, at the IFOAM Scientific Conference in Brussel, Switzerland, the core body initiating the setting up of the Certification and Inspection Program negotiated consultancy support from FiBl and bio.inspecta for the development of local capabilities and setting up of systems for certification and inspection.

Last December 2000, the OTWC together with CITEM and other multi-sectoral groups in the organic movement carried out the first Orientation Training on Organic Certification and Inspection in Laguna with consultants from FiBL and bio.inspecta conducting the training. About 40 representatives from various NGOs, Pos, academe, and government agencies attended.

FiBL is a Swiss research and training institute on biological agriculture. It is an IFOAM member and is the driving force behind the setting up of the certification program in Switzerland. Bio.inspecta, also based in Switzerland, is an internationally recognized certifying agency. It will also provide the inspection training in partnership with FiBL.

The conduct of the training has brought into the process of setting up the certification and inspection program led by key stakeholder and other supporters of the organic movement. These include people from the academe from respected agricultural universities (Benguet State University (BSU), Central Luzon State University (CLSU), and UPLB), other NOG networks such as PDAP, PhilNet, SIBAT and representatives from other organic farmers’ groups, other government agencies (Philippine Coconut Authority and the Department of Agriculture).

This training also brought forth a consensus from these stakeholders in terms of concepts, priorities, strategies, and goals of the national certification and inspection program. An indicative 4-year plan of work and a detailed 1-year plan were formulated with various stakeholders committing resources and support in the setting up of the certification and inspection program and body.

These consultants were selected for their willingness to effect knowledge-transfer to a developing country and willingness of their organizations to subsidize the cost of training through reduced consultants fees. Furthermore, bringing in foreign consultants would benefit a larger number of people to be trained at one time at a lesser cost.

Last March 2001, the OTWC commissioned FiBL to review and check on the inconsistencies of the Organic Certification Standard of the Philippines. The revised draft was reviewed during the workshop held last May 31- June 1, 2001.

A team of experts was commissioned by the OTWC to prepare the initial draft of the Manual of Operation and Inspection Manuals. These manuals would serve as over-all guide in the implementation of the Certification and Inspection Program. The first draft was out last 10 May and reviewed by a bigger group also in the same workshop. These manuals were presented during the National Organic Agriculture (OA) Conference in June 21-22, 2001.

The purpose of the workshop was to finalize the revised Philippine Basic Standards, review of the first draft of the Manual of Operations and Certification and Inspection Manual and develop a pre-assessment inspection by local inspectors for local produce. It was also during this workshop that the Basic Standards was renamed “Certification Standards of the Philippines” and the certification body was called “Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP).

A farmer-friendly manual in Filipino of the section on Crop production of the Organic Standards of the Philippines and primer on OA, Inspection and Certification have been prepared and presented during the National OA Conference on June 21-22, 2001.

The Organic Certification and Inspection Program was formally launching last June 22, 2001during the National OA Conference. Presented in the launching were the over-all five (5)- year Program, the development of the OA Standards and the Manuals of Operation, Inspection Manual, OCCP Standards, and a farmer-friendly of the section Crop Production. After the conference, the General Assembly of the OCCP as OA stakeholders was held.

The Second Phase Training on Organic Certification and Inspection was conducted last February 2002 at the Central Luzon State University in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija by bio.inspecta in coordination with CITEM and OCCP. Twenty-five (25) pre-selected participants from the previous training plus four (4) personnel from the Department of Agriculture (BPI, BAFPS & AMAS) and Board Members of OCCP were provided with theoretical session and practical inspection training for production and processing.