MARCH 28, 2014

NR # 3419B

Soil and Water technologies to ensure agricultural productivity and food security
Maximizing agricultural productivity is the only option for the country’s food security, a party-list lady-lawmaker today declared. “This is why we have to promote soil and water conservation technologies and approaches for sustaina le land management,! ""M#$%-&'" (arty-list )ep. %haron %. *arin stressed, adding that “water and soil are nature’s wealth that must e protected for our future’s sake.! )ep. *arin lauded the approval of her proposed “%oil and 'ater +onservation "ct of ,-./!, contained in 0# ,---, y the +ommittee on "griculture and 1ood and, recently y the +ommittee on "ppropriations. &nce a +ommittee )eport is finalized y the +ommittee on "griculture, the primary referral panel, it will e forwarded to the +ommittee on )ules for scheduling and endorsement to plenary, come opening of the second regular session of +ongress in May. *arin recalled that the original 0# 223. was approved y the 0ouse last 1e ruary ,-./ during the wee hours of the .4th +ongress and endorsed to the %enate two days later, ut time was not on its side. “This re-filed ill aims to promote soil and water conservation technologies and practices through the 5ational %oil and 'ater +onservation (rogram, with local government units and marginalized farmers in rain-fed uplands as primary target sectors,! *arin explained. 6nder the program, environment-friendly rainwater harvesting structures will e constructed in the middle and upper reaches of the uplands and watershed with predominantly rolling to hilly topography, she said. The lawmaker said the depressions and small inland valleys in these areas can e harnessed for small water reservoir development which would then e utilized y poor upland farming communities for agricultural production. “The proposed program will also include watershed protection, development and management as ma7or components,! *arin stressed. +oncomitant to water conservation activities, *arin said, are soil conservation activities, stressing that there are various soil conservation measures that could e implemented in the uplands to protect the environment while attaining agricultural productivity. “These will reduce the risks of natural disasters and enhance the adoption mechanism of farmers and communities to climate change. Moreover, it will also enhance food security, improve farm household income, protect resource ase and8or environment and prepare the community against the threats of an upcoming natural calamity,! *arin pointed out.

%he, likewise, noted that sustaina le upland development is one of the priority thrusts of the government under 9xecutive &rder 2-2 : Pursuing Sustainable Upland Development Anchoring on Food, Wood and Non-Wood Security and Economic Productivity;. “)ainwater harvesting can contri ute to the attainment of sustaina le upland development y involving local communities who will manage and maintain oth the rainwater harvesting systems and the local watersheds, which are important in recharging ground and surface water that will feed into the water impounding dams,! the lawmaker added. "s a ackgrounder, *arin noted that the country has an average annual rainfall of a out ,,<--- mm which is enough to meet the annual water demand for crop production. “0owever, this amount of rainfall is not evenly distri uted throughout the year in most parts of the country. $n some areas, there is too much rainfall, resulting in excessive surface runoff, severe erosion, siltation of rivers, and flooding during the rainy season. "nd in other parts of the country, there may e too little to provide a sustained ase flow to support crop production especially during the dry season, particularly in the upland areas,! she explained. The situation, she lamented, is further aggravated y the continuous degradation of watershed, su 7ected to various forms of degradation such as indiscriminate logging and slashand- urn practices : aingin;. These resulted in the loss of forest cover from .= million hectares in .>/< to only a out 4.// million hectares in most recent estimates in ,--/. $f only properly managed, watersheds can provide a continuing flow of water to a particular water ody :river, creeks and streams; and to man-made “water use outlets! like dams, irrigation systems, or water supply take off points, she pointed out. %he also deplored that a out <4? of the ara le lands in the country have een moderately to severely eroded, triggering the movement of su sistence farmers to marginal lands with the hope of meeting their day-to-day food re@uirements. "pproximately, *arin said, 4., million hectares are severely eroded and 3.4 million hectares are moderately eroded resulting in /--4-? reduction in soil productivity and water retention capacity which could result to drought and other water-related pro lems. :/-; dpt