President Rodrigo R. Duterte on June 9, 2021 has approved the fund of ₱523,575,000 for the first year implementation of National Soil Health Program (NSHP) of the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Soils and Water Management. The DA Secretary William D. Dar made an announcement saying that the National Soil Health Program will be implemented from 2021-2023. The program has a total budget of 1.5 Billion Pesos for the period of 3 years.
The program was proposed and authored by Dr. Gina P. Nilo, Chief of Laboratory Services Division and concurrent OIC Assistant Director of BSWM is the lead implementer of the program. NSHP aims to have a systematic and holistic approach in addressing soil health to ensure sustainable use and management of soil resources and enhanced crop productivity and farmers’ income. Thus meeting the twin objectives of Masaganang Ani at Mataas na Kita. All other technical divisions of the bureau such as Soil Survey Division, Agricultural Land Management and Evaluation Division and Geomatics and Soil Information Technology Division working in close coordination will identify soil reference and soil monitoring sites for regular updating and mapping of soil fertility, land suitability and integration of SLM in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Soil Rejuvenation and Adaptive Sustainable Land Management will be applied in the degraded areas to be monitored by the Soil Conservation Management Division and Water Resources Management Division. In all these activities, it is important that the integrity and quality of baseline soil data and soil indicators are interchangeable and comparable across locations such that appropriate interventions can be applied as well as for agricultural land use planning and decision-making. Thus, it is important that all soil laboratories in the country work on harmonized test method using Quality Assurance and Quality Control as prescribed by the BSWM standard test methods.
As proposed, the bulk of the project fund amounting to 73% will enhance the capacities of soil laboratories nationwide by upgrading facilities through the procurement of state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, harmonized test methods and training of technical staff.
It also intends to acquire modern mobile laboratory units that would benefit farms located far from established Provincial and Regional laboratories, distribution of Soil Test Kit and Soil Health Card, thus, capacitating local government extension workers, farmer leaders, rural based institutions and other stakeholders.
Further, it will establish a Laboratory Information Management System that will allow exchange of data between and among soil laboratories in the country. Likewise, it will establish a data banking system for efficient technological transfer and data utilization for regular updating of soil map, monitoring of soil health and provision of site specific intervention.
The BSWM Laboratory Services Division for year one implementation has given priority on the procurement of Laboratory Equipment for the 15 DA-Regional Soils Laboratories, Bohol Provincial Laboratory and BSWM LSD.
The establishment of Quality Reference Material Production Center in Bukidnon and Bulacan Research Centers will ensure the provision of reference material for Inter-Laboratory Comparison among soil laboratories in the country as authorized in the implementation of PD 1435.
In a statement released by Secretary William D. Dar in DA Official Page, CNN and GMA 7, he is very thankful to President Duterte for supporting this long-awaited soil rejuvenation program to enable our farmers to produce bountiful crops and earn more income for their families.
“As soil is the foundation of agriculture, we must therefore protect, preserve, and nurture it to sustainably produce adequate, affordable, and nutritious food for all Filipinos,” Dar added.