Globally, we are witnessing an upward trend in organic food production and consumption and its market is forecasted to reach as high as $380.84 billion by 2025. The mainstreaming of organic agriculture is propelled by the growing resistance to "Big Agriculture" that is causing much of the food insecurity that smallholder farmers and poor households are experiencing, particularly in the developing countries.
In the Philippines, there has been a significant increase in the size of its agricultural land dedicated to organic practices within the last 20 years. The country is slightly behind its national target due to various challenges from the farmer' perspective and issues in the implementation by government agencies and extension workers. Nonetheless, the rise in adoption of organic practices among Filipino farmers seems to denote a move towards the right direction, that is, food security. Organic agriculture is regenerative and it entails holistic practices anchored on the principles of health, ecology, fairness and care. But it doesn't come without danger.
A huge motivation for Filipino smallholder farmers transitioning to organic practices is still its lucrative market, both domestically as a niche market for the wealthy and mostly urban-based households, and internationally as exports. This is problematic for two main reasons. First, the reputation attached to organic products being alluded to the health-conscious, rich individuals creates a 'niche' market that leads to an expected profitability seen as an 'aesthetic illusion' - an unsustainable source of profitability. Secondly, producing primarily for export can lead to production of monoculture crops as it allows the foreign market demands to dictate what the farmers should produce. Also, as observed in many developing countries, it's only a matter of time until the large commercial farms borrow organic techniques and transition to large-scale organic production. The conventionalisation of organic culture, or simply "Big Organic" will lead to the erosion of power from the smallholder farmers and food insecurity in the same manner as industrial agriculture currently does. The main driving force behind the expansion of organic agriculture in the Philippines should be anchored on producing mainly for local consumption. IISLA believes that when the farmers are provided with the enabling environment, they will prioritise local consumers over exports; and only through this will the country achieve food security and self-sufficiency where farmers can exercise their freedom over what and how to produce, while consumers have access to abundant, affordable and healthy food.