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Thursday, December 15, 2011

BSWM supports bill on soil and water management

With climate change posing a great threat to the agriculture sector, two lawmakers in the House of Representatives believe it is essential for the government to put into place a program that will help conserve the country’s precious water and soil resources.

Housebill No. 4468, which was filed by Representatives Sharon S. Garin of AAMBIS- OWA Partylist from Iloilo and Juan Edgardo M. Angara of Aurora, aims to help conserve water and soil resources in the country, by establishing within five years from the effectivity of the law 1,000 Soil and Water Conservation Guided Farms and 10,000 units of small-scale rainwater harvesting systems, among others.

The Bureau and Soils and Water Management (BSWM) is backing the passage of HB 4468.

“This bill is very timely because climate change threatens the country’s soil and water resources, and there is a need for programs to implement sustainable farming practices nationwide, and HB 4468 is a good direction towards that,” said BSWM Executive Director Dr. Silvino Tejada.

In its position paper submitted to the House Committee on Agriculture and Food headed by Rep. Mark Leandro Mendoza, the BSWM said that “the proposed bill would provide a more definite and clearer financing mechanism that would ensure adequate, predictable and continuous funding support to the implementation of Sustainable Land Management strategies to address land degradation and drought.”

Under the proposed measure, the BSWM “shall prepare National Soil and Water Conservation Program subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.”

Tejada said that the 1,000 Soil and Water Conservation Guided Farms and 10,000 units of small-scale rainwater harvesting systems being proposed by the bill jives with the current programs of the BSWM.

The agency has been building small water impounding projects and small diversion dams, among others, that impound rainfall to irrigate farms.

“The passage of HB 4468 will facilitate the building of such facilities, which I believe will also make farming communities more aware of their role to help conserve precious soil and water resources,” Tejada added.

Under the proposed measure, the completed small-scale rainwater harvesting systems will be turned over to the concerned local government unit (LGU) upon completion. The LGU will then select a farmer and/or irrigator’s association to operate, manage and maintain the structures. Also present in the deliberation are Hon. Victorino Dennis M. Socrates, Vice Chairman, 2ndDistrict, Palawan, Hon. Angelo Palmones, AGHAM Partylist, Hon. Randy Ting, 3rd Cagayan Province, Hon. Cresente C. Paez Coop- NATTCO Partylist , Hon. Henry Pryde Teves, 3rd Negros Oriental.

HB 4468 also mandates the BWSM to provide technical support and assistance to LGUs in the preparation of Watershed Management Plan (WMP) in critical watershed areas that would host the small-scale rainwater harvesting systems.

Tejada said that the BWSM is prepared to undertake its role stipulated in HB 4468, since it is also the National Focal Agency in the Philippines for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

Besides building small irrigation systems, among the other major programs of BSWM is the provision of technical assistance for the rehabilitation of watershed systems under the Mindanao Rural Development Program- Natural Resources Management (MRDP-NRM). Veron Hernandez, PSciJourn Mega Manila

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