2023 June 21
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.
MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday stressed the need to implement innovative measures to address the “growing problem” of degradation, acidification, and pollution of Philippine soil.
“Needless to say, our soil is under threat. And to continue to neglect this vital agricultural component will lead to even worse crisis in the future,” Marcos said during the first National Soil Health Summit (NSHS) at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.
While the Philippines is “blessed with rich and fertile lands,” Marcos added that the country is facing “grave and urgent” issues in providing quality and sufficient food.
Citing the data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the President noted that around 75 percent of the country’s total cropland is “vulnerable to erosion in various degrees,” with agriculture losing about 457 million tons of soil annually.
Marcos added that the conversion of lands for settlements and the loss of about 47 hectares of forest cover every year contribute to soil degradation.
He also lamented that on top of the 2.2 million hectares that suffer from “insufficient levels of soil fertility,” around 11 to 13 million hectares are “considered degraded.”
“Making matters worse is the improper use of fertilizers and pesticides that pollute and acidify our soil,” Marcos said.
The Chief Executive noted that the holding of the first NSHS is vital in enhancing programs related to soil health and promoting the sustainable use of soul.
“With the discourse amongst our leaders and the agricultural sector’s brightest minds, I anticipate that this summit will spark more informed decisions and much-needed innovations in the coming years,” he said.
“We in government cannot solve the issues affecting our soil and the agriculture sector as a whole on our own. As such, this summit is an opportune time for all of us here to collaborate, to share our wisdom and experience to improve our soil and boost our agricultural productivity, all the while promoting sustainability and environmental protection,” Marcos added.
His administration has come up with a five-point priority agenda on soil and water management to ensure the proper use and management of soil resources, address land degradation, and improve crop productivity and farmers’ income.
These include the implementation of the National Soil Health Program; sustainable land management; empowerment of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM); the conduct of Soil and Land Resources Mapping and Evaluation Process; and exploration of water security.
“These are all part of the collective effort to mitigate the effects of the El Niño phenomenon,” Marcos said.
The government is also committed to addressing the “systemic and perennial ills” in the agriculture sector, noting that it is focused on introducing new technologies and machinery to farmers to give them access to “more efficient practices”, he added.
He said major investments in the agriculture industry from local and foreign investors are also welcome to provide farmers with the capital and tools they need to boost productivity.
Spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture’s BSWM, the first NSHS aims to implement a more systematic and holistic approach to address matters concerning soil health in the country.
The summit seeks collaboration and improved partnerships with various stakeholders geared toward the implementation of soil health improvement strategies and agricultural productivity in the country.
Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos (PNA)