The DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM), through its Agricultural Land Management and Evaluation Division (ALMED), achieved another milestone as it turned over to its partner agencies the The DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM), through its Agricultural Land Management and Evaluation Division (ALMED), achieved another milestone as it turned over to its partner agencies the Network of Protected Areas for Agriculture and Agro-Industrial Development (NPAAAD) and Strategic Agriculture and Fisheries Development Zone (SAFDZ) Maps on 15 November 2022, at the BSWM Lopez Convention Hall. This event is in support of the passage and enactment of the National Land Use Act (NaLUA).

DA-BSWM OIC Director Gina P. Nilo formally opened the event through her Welcome Message wherein she foremost expressed her gratitude for the presence of the Bureau’s strong partners from the other agencies. Director Nilo especially thanked the President and Department of Agriculture Secretary, His Excellency Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., as the latter puts among his highest priority the passage of the NaLUA. Further, Director Nilo shared that the DA-BSWM was mandated through the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) to delineate the NPAAAD and SAFDZ for the sustainable land utilization/management and protection of prime agricultural lands.  With this, the agency was able to delineate the NPAAAD and SAFDZ, and has conducted consultation-workshops and facilitated the adoption of the maps by the Local Government Units in 1999 to 2000. She stressed that per AFMA, said maps are the bases for the crafting of the Agriculture and Fishery Modernization Plan (AFMP). Director Nilo then underscored that this             Turn Over of the NPAAAD and SAFDZ Maps to the major stakeholders has shown that DA-BSWM is once again at the forefront in protecting the prime agricultural land. To close her message, Director Nilo mentioned that the DA-BSWM is and will always be ready to act and give full support as we all work together towards continual growth in the agriculture sector.

One of the main portions of the Program was delivered by Honorable Domingo F. Panganiban, DA Senior Undersecretary, through his Keynote Message. Senior Undersecretary Panganiban graced the event on behalf of the President, His Excellency Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. As he commenced, the Senior Undersecretary congratulated the DA-BSWM for this endeavor. He then stated the importance of the AFMA – that it provides for the development of irrigation systems that are effective, affordable, appropriate and efficient; the development of a market information system through the establishment of a National Information Network designed to benefit the farmers and fisherfolk, cooperatives, traders, processors, and local government units, and development and use of product standards to ensure consumer safety and promote the competitiveness of agriculture and fisheries product. He further recognized the DA-BSWM’s initiative in identifying and delineating the NPAAAD in 1998. Usec. Panganiban then emphasized, among others, the importance of the NPAAAD and SAFDZ in the integration of SAFDZ-Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) in every municipality and city. He added that the NaLUA was identified by our former President Rodrigo Duterte as among the priority legislative measures in his State of the Nation Addresses (SONA) since 2017. He appealed to the Legislators to pass the NaLUA. However, the Bill has been pending in Congress and Senate for two decades. Furthermore, he said that His Excellency, President Marcos, Jr. hopes to convince the Congress to pass the long-stalled Land Use Act, given that food security is one of His Excellency’s immediate priorities. This is because the said Act would prevent the conversion of agricultural lands into industrial or commercial use, or residential real estate development. To close his message, Senior Usec. Panganiban encouraged the attendees to be one in sustaining and managing our country’s agricultural lands, moreover, to show their support to the BSWM.

As the highlight of the event, DA-BSWM OIC Director Gina P. Nilo and OIC Assistant Director and concurrent Chief of the Agricultural Land Management and Evaluation Division (ALMED) Mr. Bernardo B. Pascua spearheaded the official turnover of the NPAAAD and SAFDZ Maps to DA Senior Undersecretary Panganiban. Turned over was a prototype of the electronic copy, as well as the printed copies of the maps. After which, Senior Usec. Panganiban, along with OIC-Director Nilo and OIC-Assistant Director Pascua, turned over the maps to the partner agencies – to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, National Economic Development Authority, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, League of Cities of the Philippines, DA-Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Engineering, and to the DA-Regional Field Offices.

Following the turnover was the signing of the Manifesto of Support by the attendees headed by Senior Undersecretary Panganiban, OIC-Director Nilo, and OIC-Assistant Director Pascua.

As their way of thanking the DA-BSWM, the DA Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Engineering (DA-BAFE), through its Assistant Director Engr. Juana Tapel, presented a site showing the Farm-to-Market Road Development Program (FMRDP) Convergence with NPAAAD and SAFDZ which includes the maps provided by the DA-BSWM.

To officially close the program, OIC-Asst. Director and ALMED Chief Mr. Bernardo B. Pascua summarized the important points in relation to the NPAAAD and SAFDZ. He also thanked everyone for taking part in the momentous event. The DA-BSWM is grateful for the presence of other officials and representatives from the Department of Agriculture – Usec. Rodolfo V. Vicerra of the Agri-Industrialization, Director Honorio C. Flameño of the Information and Communications Technology Service, the DA-Agriculture and Fisheries Information Division and the DA Press Corps, as well as to former DA-BSWM Directors Dr. Rogelio N. Concepcion, Dr. Silvino Q. Tejada, and Engr. Pablo M. Montalla.