DA chief bats for state-of-the-art soil labs

Published June 3, 2021, 7:10 PM

by Betheena Unite

What better way to help farmers grow more produce than to set up modern and efficient soil laboratories around the country?

Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar pitched this idea in his speech during the 70th anniversary celebration of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) Wednesday, June 2.

Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar (Photo courtesy of the DA)

In this regard, Dar ordered the creation of national and regional soil laboratories through the recently-approved National Soil Health Program. The endeavor has a P523.575-million funding.

“We want to have the regional laboratories including of course the national soils laboratory to be state-of-the-art,” Dar said.

“Let’s see to it that there is full automation para yung pagsisilbi natin sa mga magsasaka ay mas mapabilis at mas marami pang magagawa (so that our service to the farmers will be swifter and more productive),” Dar added.

The secretary said the bureau could encourage local government units (LGUs) from large provinces to establish their own modern soil laboratories in a bid to amplify the DA’s efforts and serve more farmers in the country.

The National Soil Health Program, which will be implemented from 2021 to 2023 by the BSWM, aims to institutionalize the national soil monitoring and rejuvenation program. It also intends to establish soil health monitoring through mobile soil laboratories, strengthen partnerships with various stakeholders, and initiate production and improvement in soil analysis.

“Let’s generate funding for these key areas that we would like to pursue para mas marami pa tayong magawa at maging sustainable, maging resilient ang Philippine food systems (so that we would become more productive, sustainable, and for the Philippine food system to be resilient),” Dar said.

The agriculture secretary has been advocating for the National Soil Health Program and rainwater harvesting as a way to address concerns on crop productivity and water availability, respectively. Needless to say, soil and water are crucial elements to agriculture.

He added that without rich soil and ample water supply, even the best crop varieties cannot provide the expected yield.

“BSWM was founded to protect the soil as one goal and to sustain its productivity. Therefore, over the period of 70 years, we have developed technologies that can help DA promote the mantra of our secretary–resilient agriculture providing accessible food for everyone,” BSWM Director and Asian Soil Partnership Chairperson Sonia Salguero said.