MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. emphasized the importance of implementing innovative measures to combat the escalating problems of soil degradation, acidification, and pollution in the Philippines.
Speaking at the inaugural National Soil Health Summit (NSHS) held at the Diamond Hotel in Manila, Marcos expressed concern about the grave implications of neglecting this critical agricultural component.
Challenges in Providing Quality Food
Despite acknowledging the Philippines’ abundance of rich and fertile lands, Marcos highlighted the country’s pressing and urgent issues in ensuring the provision of quality and sufficient food.
Citing data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the President revealed that approximately 75 percent of the nation’s cropland is vulnerable to erosion to varying degrees, resulting in an annual loss of around 457 million tons of soil in the agricultural sector.
Contributing Factors and Environmental Impact
Marcos drew attention to the conversion of lands for settlements and the loss of 47 hectares of forest cover each year, both contributing to soil degradation.
He also expressed concern about the improper use of fertilizers and pesticides, which further pollute and acidify the soil.
Importance of the National Soil Health Summit
Recognizing the significance of the first NSHS, President Marcos stressed the need to enhance programs related to soil health and promote sustainable practices.
He expressed optimism that the summit would encourage informed decision-making and spark much-needed innovations in the years to come.
Collaboration and Shared Responsibility
Highlighting the government’s role, Marcos emphasized that resolving the soil and agriculture sector’s challenges requires collaborative efforts.
He also called for collaboration, wisdom sharing, and experience exchange to improve soil conditions, enhance agricultural productivity, and prioritize sustainability and environmental protection.
Government Initiatives and Priorities
President Marcos’s administration has developed a five-point priority agenda for soil and water management.
This agenda aims to ensure proper use and management of soil resources, address land degradation, improve crop productivity, and enhance farmers’ income.
The key initiatives include the implementation of the National Soil Health Program, sustainable land management practices, empowerment of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), Soil and Land Resources Mapping and Evaluation Process, and exploration of water security measures.
Innovative Approaches and Support for Farmers
Marcos emphasized the government’s commitment to address the systemic challenges faced by the agriculture sector.
The administration aims to introduce new technologies and machinery to farmers, enabling them to adopt more efficient practices.
Additionally, the President welcomed major investments from local and foreign investors to provide farmers with the necessary capital and tools to enhance productivity.
National Soil Health Summit and Collaboration
Organized by the Department of Agriculture’s BSWM, the first NSHS aims to implement a systematic and holistic approach to address soil health concerns in the country.
The summit seeks to foster collaboration and strengthen partnerships with various stakeholders to devise strategies for improving soil health and agricultural productivity nationwide.
The National Soil Health Summit represents a significant step toward tackling soil degradation, ensuring sustainable agricultural practices, and safeguarding the future of food security in the Philippines.