IT’S NOT JUST the El Niño / climate change and dwindling number of farmers that threaten our food security. The degradation of soil in our farmlands, too. If not addressed, it will eventually lead to lower agricultural output despite the application of modern farming practices.
The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management estimated that 45 percent or around 13 million hectares of arable land in the Philippines are either moderately or severely eroded due to massive deforestation and adoption of unsustainable land management practices in the upland areas, further compounded by the unabated use of urea in modern farming, which has led to actual soil degradation.
A few years ago in the Senate, a bill was filed (“An Act Promoting Soil and Water Conservation Technologies and Approaches for Sustainable Land Management in the Philippines”) to support sustainable land management programs for livelihood improvement, particularly that of upland farmers and indigenous peoples, and for the prevention of land degradation. What happened to it?
The measure also included provision for a national soil and water conservation program; the creation of model farms that will showcase water and soil conservation; and the construction of small-scale rainwater harvesting structures.
We have to capacitate and empower local government units and farmers associations in the implementation and operationalization and maintenance of soil and water conservation. These are keys to our food security.
Land degradation affects us all and is likely to contribute to widespread and severe poverty in the rural areas. Harnessing soil and water conservation measures and practices including rainwater harvesting, watershed protection and sloping technology is critical in reducing soil erosion and enhancing agricultural productivity.