The Department of Agriculture (DA) through the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM) joins the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the annual celebration of the World Soil Day (WSD) on December 5, 2022.
The observance of WSD started in 2014 after its adoption during the 68th UN General Assembly.
This year’s theme, “Soils, where food begins” aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health.
The campaign seeks to promote healthy soil and advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.
“Healthy Soils is the world’s lifeline. It ensures food supply, preserves clean water, increases biodiversity, and help mitigate climate change,” Senator Cynthia Villar stressed.
In her message, Villar urged the Bureau to promote composting to combat high price of fertilizer adding that the agency will be instrumental in reducing the country’s chemical fertilizer imports.
“Ang maganda dito nakakatulong ito sa ating mga soils. Hindi rin maganda na puro chemical fertilizer ang ginagamit natin kasi this results to soil acidity, and after a long time nagiging degraded ang soil,” Villar said.
The Senator added that kitchen and garden wastes could be made into compost fertilizer. She also cited Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) study on animal manure as one component of organic fertilizer.
Villar committed P3 billion to the DA-BSWM General Appropriations Act (GAA) to they can distribute more composting facilities and more towns engage into composting.
In his keynote message, DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban said that land and soils affect everything from productivity to national economic development, and climate change.
He stressed that soil degradation and soil erosion are not just farm problems but also a matter of urgent national concern.
“The government must promote sustainable management of soils, encourage investments, technical cooperation, appropriate policies, education, public awareness, and improve extension services soil health and conservation. He also urged the improvement of data collection of good quality soils,” he added.
According to Assistant FAO Philippines Representative Tamara Palis Duran, soil nutrient loss is one of the major threats in human nutrition and global food security.
She added that about 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency.
“In a broader context, while there is no sustainable goal development (SDG) that is solely dedicated to soil, there are 7 SDG’s related to soils. We acknowledge that this will not be achieved without addressing the concerns of soils,” Duran said.
These are SDG 2: Zero Hunger, SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being, SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG 13: Climate Action, and SDG 15: Life on Land.
According to BSWM OIC-Director Gina Nilo, FAO named DA-BSWM chair of the Asian Soil Partnership and lead the ASEAN Regional Laboratory Network.
As such, the Bureau shall implement the National Soil Health and Sustainable Land Management Program, and continue to uphold the mandates of Presidential Decree No. 1435, which directs the DA-BSWM to supervise, regulate, and control the establishment and operations of all soil laboratories in the Philippines.
The Bureau will also re-introduce the Adoptive Balanced Fertilization Management; and update the Philippine Soil and Land Resources Information.
Highlighting the program was the launching of the BSWM Map Guidebook containing updated BSWM Map standards and symbols. Winners of the Soil Cake Contest, Poster Making Contest and National Photo Contest were also awarded. ### (Kristel Merle, DA-AFID)