Healthy soil is the foundation in ensuring food security in our country. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that healthy soils are the basis for healthy food production. A healthy living soil is crucial to food security as about 95 percent of the food that the world consumes is directly or indirectly produced from the soils. Sustainable soil
management could produce up to 58 percent more food. By 2050, agricultural production must increase by 60 percent globally – and by almost 100 percent in developing countries – in order to meet food demand alone.
Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chairperson of Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, is greatly concerned about the level of soil degradation in the Philippines which is at 38 percent while the world soil degradation is placed at 33 percent. This is due to unsustainable agricultural practices that damages and depletes soil’s organic matter which leads to loss of soil fertility; deplete water retention and its ability to store carbon. Thus, the conservation and responsible management of soils is necessary to help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
In order to protect the environment, Sen. Villar implemented and supported various projects aimed to develop sustainable agriculture. Together with Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), headed by Engr. Pablo M. Montalla as the new Director, they both push for the allocation of funds and the distributed Composting Facilities for Biodegradable Waste (CFBW) to farmers and LGUs all over the Philippines so they can produce their own organic fertilizer by composting. This is also with the support of the DA-National Organic Agriculture Program with Director Bernadette San Juan and the DA- High Value Crops Program, headed by Usec. Evelyn Lavinia.
As a requirement, the BSWM conducts Training on the Capacity Enhancement of beneficiaries on the Operation of Composting Facilities for Biodegradable Waste despite of the pandemic to assure their complete understanding of the program on a limited face to face training and also virtually. This is to make sure that there is efficient segregation of waste for conversion into useful organic fertilizer to reduce the cost of fertilizer and help increase farmer’s income.
The CFBW concept was introduced to the BWSM in 2015 by Senator Cynthia Villar which the BSWM adopted as a major project. CFBW is composed of One (1) unit rotary composter and one (1) unit shredding machine. It is in line with the priority thrust of the National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP) to increase crop productivity through sustainable agriculture. This is to promote organic farming, proper waste management; lessen dependence to chemical fertilizer and to enrich the soil. Starting in 2002, Senator Villar also established with the support of the family’s Villar SIPAG Foundation organic fertilizer facilities in Las Pinas in 67 locations covering almost all barangays and Homeowner Associations in Las Pinas. These facilities process and collect kitchen and garden wastes from households daily and produces 60 tons of compost a month given to farmers and planting enthusiasts for free. A CFBW facility can produce one ton of organic fertilizer a month.
Through this project, the LGUs can also save funds by managing and processing wastes in their communities which can help in progressively minimizing improper waste disposal and us closer in becoming zero- waste as part of the United Nations sustainable development goals.
From 2015 to 2020, BSWM has distributed 957 CFBWs nationwide. This year, they have started the distribution of 321 CFBWs. Luzon is set to receive 160 units, Visayas 70 units, and Mindanao 91 units, which are scheduled to be delivered until October 2021 and due to late release of the DBM, by the end of the year, 100 more units is set for bidding and distribution.
Criteria for sites and beneficiaries starts with a letter of intent to avail of the equipment from the LGU or Coop or Association to the BSWM and followed with site validation for sufficiency of volume of raw materials for composting such as vegetable trimmings, overly ripe fruits, kitchen and garden waste (60 percent green waste and 40 percent bulking agent or coco peat, dried leaves, sawdust and animal manure. The site needs electricity to operate the 7hp machine and a housing facility for the composting and materials segregation of around 200 square meters. Senator Villar is also the author behind the PGS Law or Republic Act (RA) 11511 that amends Republic Act No. 10068 (The Organic Agriculture Act of 2010) which provides for the much-needed impetus to support the growth of organic agriculture in the country. The legislation makes the expensive certification process more accessible and affordable to small farmers and fisherfolk with the help of the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS) and the National Organic Agriculture Program.