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Legarda: Stop soil degradation

December 4, 2015

Senator Loren Legarda, Senate Climate Change Committee chairwoman, sought yesterday, congressional passage of her Senate Bill No. 337 (Soil and Water Conservation Act) which seeks to promote soil and water conservation technologies and approaches for sustainable land management.

Legarda warned that the current land degradation in 13 million hectares of arable land is likely to contribute to widespread and severe poverty in the rural areas.

The chairwoman of the Senate finance committee cited a 2010 report of the Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) which estimated that 13 million hectares of arable land in the Philippines are either moderately or severely eroded because of massive deforestation and adoption of unsustainable land management practices in the upland areas.

Legarda made the appeal as the Philippines observes World Soil Day today (December 5) as she stressed the need for collective action on sustainable land use and protection of soil, “a nearly forgotten resource, to halt and reverse land degradation.”

“This celebration is not only an excellent opportunity to highlight the importance of soil but also serves as a warning for all of us that soil degradation is a rapidly increasing problem all over the world,” she said.

“We often take soil for granted without realizing the importance of this non-renewable resource. Without healthy soils, there would be no life because it is the foundation for food, animal feed, fuels and medicine. Hence, we need to develop and adopt good farming practices essential for mitigating soil degradation,” she stressed.

Legarda said some 33 per cent of global soils are already degraded through urbanization.

“Soil erosion, nutrient depletion, salinity, aridification, and contamination are additional threats. In the Philippines, around 33 million hectares or 45 percent of arable lands are affected by soil degradation making them unsustainable and less productive,” she explained.

Legarda said that this condition is 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,” she added.

Legarda said her bill supports 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.

Source: Manila Bulletin