Legarda: Land Degradation Affects 33M Filipinos

August 30, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda today stressed the need to address land degradation that is affecting about one-third of the population.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said that the Global Assessment of Land Degradation and Improvement showed that land degradation in the country has affected more than 33 million Filipinos and is likely to contribute to widespread and severe poverty in the rural areas.

She noted that a 2010 report by the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management estimated that 45% or around 13 million hectares of arable land in the Philippines are either moderately or severely eroded due to massive deforestation and adoption of unsustainable land management practices in the upland areas, further compounded by the unabated use of urea in modern farming, which has led to actual soil degradation.

“The degradation of soil in our farmlands will eventually lead to lower agricultural output despite the application of modern farming practices. This will affect not only the livelihood of our farmers but also our food supply,” Legarda said.

“It is in this light that I filed a proposed measure that will support Sustainable Land Management (SLM) programs for livelihood improvement, particularly that of upland farmers and indigenous peoples, and for the prevention of land degradation and the protection of the environment and natural resource base,” she added.

Senate Bill 337, the Soil and Water Conservation Act, will promote soil and water conservation technologies and approaches for sustainable land management.

The salient features of the bill are as follows:

  • Establishment of the National Soil and Water Conservation Program which shall foment synergy between agricultural productivity improvement and sustainable land management through the promotion and implementation of soil and water conservation technologies and approaches;
  • Creation of Soil and Water Conservation Guided Farms (SWCGF) that shall serve as model farms that will showcase soil and water conservation approaches and technologies in the uplands; and
  • Construction of small-scale rainwater harvesting structures to be established in cluster to store rainwater and surface runoff within watersheds.