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PSSST, targets to increase number of soil science majors

By Loraine D. Cerillo - Project Development Officer II
September 09, 2015

The Philippine Society of Soil Science and technology, Inc (PSSST) will be giving thesis grantsand career orientation to all State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) that offer Agricultural courses in the Philippines, in accordance with PSSST's purpose and objective to promote the advancement of soil science and technology in the Philippines and to increase the number of students majoring in soil science.

The sharp decline in the number of enrollees in agriculture in the Philippines for the last few decades is considered as a threat to the country’s food security. According to a research conducted by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), the country’s finest agricultural institution, there was a drastic decline in the year 2012 posting only 4.7 percent agriculture majors to the total enrollees of 2012.

According to Ms. Redia N. Atienza, PSSST President, to combat the alarming statistics, the PSSST initiates to conduct career orientation activities for second and third year students to offer them opportunities upon finishing college and giving away thesis grants to all qualified soil science majors.

"The career orientation program is to encourage students to major in Soil Science, where our soil scientists and technologists share their knowledge regarding the many opportunities ahead, in the development and conservation of Philippine Soils. This is augmented and or complemented the PSSST Thesis Grant Program for those majoring in soil science," said Atienza.

Moreover, the Vice Chairman of the PSSST and the Executive Director of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) shows support and acknowledgment to the PSSST's objective to increase the number of soil majors in the Philippines. He stands for the greater need of the Philippines to produce Soil Scientists for the food security of our country, he added.

"I am supporting PSSST's objective to increase the number of soil science majors by giving thesis grants because our country greatly needs Soil Scientists and the BSWM needs them too. At talagang konti na lang ang kumukuha ng Agricultural Courses, paano na ang food security ng ating bansa?" Tejada said.

The PSSST treasurer, Ms.Angelita C. Marcia, explains that the decreasing student numbers—along with related causes and concerns—is a common topic of discussion in different universities and colleges as the same trend is happening:since the numbers of enrolees are diminishing, the choice for soil science major is also abating.

"Yung sa agricultural courses nga paunti na nang pa-unti, lalo na yung sa soil science. At saka, konti na lang din yung mga universities and colleges na nago-offer ng soil science, kaya target namin mabigyan at least five universities and colleges that offer soil science ng thesis grant,kung mag qualify ang kanilang undergraduate thesis proposal," Marcia added.

Four slots are available for each year and PSSST will allot twenty thousand pesos (Php20,000.00) worth of thesis grant to any qualified undergraduate students in different SUCs whose major field of specialization is soil science. However, more slots can be given away subject to the availability of funds.

Considering that the Philippines is an agricultural country, the statistics showing an immense decrease and the lack of interest of the young generations to take up soil science and other related discipline may affect the agricultural stability of the country. Aside from that, farmers do not consider their children’s future ending up like them. The fact still remains that, in the Philippines, farming is considered as a“small-time” job, in fact, farmers say that, farmingfor subsistence barely provides for their family.

However, the PSSST has set a crusade to campaign the importance of soil science to students to attain the possible increase in the number of students majoring in Soil Science. The Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) is one of the major destinations of agriculture students focusing on the facilities of theBSWM that include the Soils Laboratory and the Client Center.

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