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PHL, other ASEAN members unite for soil and nutrient management

As the harvest season for corn reaches its peak, farmers thresh corn cobs in Barangay Baguer, Libungan, North Cotabato. A hundred hectares of agricultural land in Libungan is devoted to the traditional white corn variety. (Keith Bacongco/ Manila Bulletin)

As the harvest season for corn reaches its peak, farmers thresh corn cobs in Barangay Baguer, Libungan, North Cotabato. A hundred hectares of agricultural land in Libungan is devoted to the traditional white corn variety. (Keith Bacongco/ Manila Bulletin)

MANILA — The Philippines has reiterated its support for an agreement relating to ASEAN sustainable agri-food systems project which seeks for policies and strategies for soil and nutrient management.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the Duterte administration considered policy framework on the best use of agricultural lands in the country as top priority.

“DA subscribes to the key issue that the health of soil, the crops, the livestock, and the communities are one and indivisible,” Piñol said in a message delivered for him by Director for Operations Roy Abaya during the 5th Meeting of ASEAN Soil and Nutrient Management Expert Group for ASEAN Guidelines on Soil and Nutrient Management this week.

Soil and nutrient management experts from Southeast Asian countries forged during the meeting a partnership to push for the creation of policy recommendations on healthy soils.

The policies will be used in crafting activities and plans of actions to ultimately address issues and threats in soil and nutrient management such as soil degradation and soil erosion.

The meeting was attended by representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines.

Senator Cynthia Villar, senate committee chair on Environment and Natural Resources, also reiterated that the department’s goal must be anchored on achieving available and affordable food for every Filipino.

“To be able to achieve this, we must ensure the health of the soil as it remains the most vital component to attain food security,” she said. “Without sustainable and productive soil resources, our production and food security target will be just a dream.”

Villar added that there was a need to protect soils worldwide as threats to healthy soils were rising.

“In the Philippines, 88 percent of fertile lands are affected by soil degradation. Out of the 30 million (M) hectares (ha), 11.45 million ha are vulnerable to land degradation while 2.33 million ha are already in the advance stage of degradation,” Villar added, citing the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) data.