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Formulate measures and guidelines for the effective utilization of soil and water resources as vital agricultural resources to attain food security and safety, environmental stability through soil and water resources-based adaptation and mitigation measures that address multi-environmental concerns on land degradation, climate change, and agricultural biodiversity conservation.

Statement of vital core function

As the nationally mandated authority on soils and water management for agriculture, the core function of the strengthened Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) is to provide the leadership in the pursuit of Research and Development (R & D) function for these two vital agricultural resources; and thus provide recommendations to the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

Core Functions that will be Strengthen to fully support the strategic objectives of the government

For two decades the BSWM has been performing its functions as mandated by EO 116. These functions were expanded with the passage of Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) in 1997. More recently, global concerns on climate change including efforts to combat desertification and biodiversity conservation have further distended the role of the agency that necessitates changes in its functions and policy directions in order to cover a wider range of functions and services.

Under the rationalization plan, BSWM shall be the focal agency for the promotion of judicious soil and water management for Sustainable Agriculture and management of natural resources in various agro-climate and pedo-ecosystems to ensure long-term support to food self-reliance security and agricultural productivity, particularly in poor vulnerable small farming communities.

It shall henceforth formulate and lead the implementation of programs, projects, and multi-disciplinary approaches that provide policy guidelines, criteria and indicators to effectively implement R&D agenda for the general socio-economic and physical development of sustainable agriculture supported by guidelines for cooperation (out-sourcing of delivery of services for sustainable agriculture) from stakeholders that are directly and indirectly concerned with effective governance and environmental sustainability.

The following are the rationalized core functions of the BSWM:

  1. Provide continuing assessment of the sustainability of the country’s agricultural production systems, particularly soils and water as vital agricultural resources

    R.A. 8435 otherwise known as the AFMA mandates the BSWM to undertake mapping of the Network of Protected Areas for Agriculture and Agro-Industrial Development (NPAAAD) and the Strategic Agriculture and Fisheries Development Zones (SAFDZ) and integrate them into the comprehensive land-use plan of the LGU’s. In effect, the BSWM shall conduct survey, mapping, and classification of Philippine soil and land resources to delineate the NPAAAD and assist LGUs in the delineation of the SAFDZ, and evaluate their land characteristics and qualities as input to agricultural and rural development planning, research, environmental assessment, and policy recommendations.

  2. Sustain Philippine agriculture through the promotion of sustainable agricultural land management practices in the croplands as well as the marginal uplands, hillylands and highlands

    Undertaking soil conservation in croplands and other agricultural areas is one of the major functions of the agency during the last couple of decades. Under the rationalized plan, the BSWM shall continue its efforts towards adoption of conservation agriculture technologies in key production areas particularly in the uplands, hillylands and highlands.

    Promotion of sustainable agricultural land management practices would also require focus on the development and rehabilitation of agricultural watersheds of the BSWM-established small water impounding systems and other related small-scale infrastructures.

  3. Formulate through a participatory process a national research and development agenda on sustainable agricultural land management; undertake upstream and midstream researches including location-specific and targeted researches in the generation of public goods and services in critical areas outside of comparative advantage of various specialized research institutes of the Department and the country’s SUCs; provide leadership in the development and operation of a network of institutions on soil and water resources research and development.

    Consistent with the mandate as embodied in EO 116, BSWM proposes to strengthen its capacity to undertake research and development to develop knowledge, information and cost effective soil, land and water management technologies to efficiently manage natural resources for long-term sustainable agriculture and land use stability:

    1. Strengthen the national technical and scientific capability of specialized disciplines needed for integrated multi-disciplinary R&D team for sustainable land and water use to support long term productivity of the natural resources in strategic zones of agriculture and fisheries sectors;
    2. Strengthen the human and institutional commitment to undertake targeted research and development on the sustainable use management and conservation of soil and water resources through:
      • Productivity improvement of marginal farms and farming communities;
      • Simple, cost effective, innovative sustainable land and water management technologies and best practices to prevent land degradation and stabilize land use and land productivity

        As a guiding post, BSWM crafted a framework that clearly illustrates the approach in addressing the seven major sustainable development thrusts in four program areas utilizing a multi-disciplinary team of revitalized technical and support divisions (please see framework below). It should be noted that the role of the three (3) National Soil and Water Resources Research and Development Centers (NSWRRDC) strategically located in the highland, hillyland and lowland-upland pedo-ecological zones is crucial in achieving the goals of the targeted R and D.

  4. Strengthen the convergence efforts of concerned agencies (DAR, DENR and DA) on sustainable rural development to include climate change, land degradation and bio-diversity concerns

    Corollary to this function and in view of the emerging global concerns on desertification, land degradation and drought, BSWM shall initiate national programs and projects to stop and reverse degradation, or at least mitigate the adverse effects of earlier misuse and develop rehabilitation and restoration program through land resources equity enhancing mechanisms. BSWM shall also provide assistance in implementing the agriculture component of the National Climate Change Action Plan to make them aligned to the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change; and strong coordination with other conventions (UNCBD and UNFCCC) on inter-related concerns on land degradation, climate change and bio-diversity.

  5. Render assistance and advice on policy matters related to the mitigation of the effects of extreme climate events on agricultural lands; design and develop rainwater harvesting (small water impounding) and other water-related small-scale infrastructures; and formulate recommendations on waste water use and reuse

    Under AFMA, the BSWM is tasked to plan and implement small scale irrigation projects (dams 15m or lower) as well as formulate climate change adaptation measures including provision of appropriate agro-meteorological instrumentation to generate real-time micro-climate information in different agro-climatic zones. BSWM shall aggressively pursue this function in coordination with the DA RFUs and LGUs.

  6. Engage in rain making projects for agricultural areas and watersheds to address the problems of prolonged droughts and minimize their effects to standing agricultural crops

    Related to this function, BSWM shall continue to engage in rainmaking projects in critical agricultural areas and watersheds to address the problems of prolonged droughts and minimize their effects to standing agricultural crops. However, due to difficulties in maintaining the aircrafts and facilities needed for operations BSWM shall outsource the services of private aviation companies, at the same time establish strong collaboration with DA RFUs, LGUs, PAF, PAGASA, and other concerned agencies for the effective implementation of the same.

  7. Recommend appropriate soil and water management policies to address issues on food security, environment, biodiversity, and climate change, including vulnerability/disaster risk assessment relative to agriculture

    In addition to this function, BSWM shall also provide national leadership in the development of national information and communication on sustainable agricultural land management, including land resources and other information in support to the National Information Network (NIN) as called for under AFMA. This shift in function calls for the upgrading and strengthening of the Digital Cartography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) for the development of decision support tools.

  8. Provide technical support services through the conduct of laboratory analysis on soils, water, and plant tissues; provide fertilization guides and recommendations; provide soil inoculants, compost fungus activators (CFA) and other microbial agents

    BSWM shall continue to provide support services to the technical divisions of the Bureau, public and private sectors, academe, NGOs and farmers. Under the rationalized plan, it shall have a functional role in the interpretations of soil and water analysis such as fertilizer guides and recommendations; suitability of soil and water for agriculture; soil and water quality indicators of heavy metal pollution and contamination due to unsuitable agricultural practices and other human-induced activities.