As part of its 72nd Founding Anniversary Celebration, the DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM) held the Technical Forum titled “BSWM: Advancing Toward a Center of Excellence for Sustainable Soil and Water Resources Management.” The Forum was conducted today, 06 June 2023, at the DA-BSWM Lopez Convention Hall, and through Zoom Online Platform. This was also broadcasted live at the DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management Facebook Page.

Officially opening the Forum was the Message delivered by the DA-BSWM Director Dr. Gina P. Nilo. She started by extending a heartfelt gratitude to all the DA-BSWM partners. Further, Director Nilo gave an overview of the BSWM’s programs and projects in connection with the Bureau’s Top 5 Priority Agenda: The Implementation of National Soil Health Program, Implementation of Sustainable Land Management, Implementation of Presidential Decree No. 1435, Mapping of Philippine Soil Land Resources Information Systems, Application of Climate Resilient Water Harvesting Technologies. She further added to the agenda the sixth agenda which is the Partnership, Networking, and Collaboration.

In his message, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) Representative in the Philippines Dr. Lionel Dabbadie acknowledged the strong leadership of the BSWM in the Global Soil Partnership (GSP). He then underscored in his message the importance of healthy soil and healthy water for agriculture, that’s why the FAO-UN has been working with the DA-BSWM. “We look forward to continuing working with you all for the next 72 years to come,” Dr. Dabbadie said as he ended his message.

As she furthered in the goal of the BSWM’s advancement towards becoming a center of excellence for sustainable soil and water resources management, Director Nilo then discussed topics on the Implementation of the National Soil Health Program in the Philippines; Institutionalization of the National Soil Health Program at the Department of Agriculture; and Legislating the National Soil Health Program and Strategy. Ending her discussion, the Director ran through the ways forward that we need to take: To Strengthen Partnership – Philippine Soil Partnership, Philippine National Soil Laboratory Network, Small Water Impounding System Association, among others; On the Mainstreaming and Institutionalization of the National Soil Health Program as the DA Banner Program (through the issuance of the draft Department AO for Mainstreaming of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management’s National Soil Health Program); and the Legislation of the National Soil Health Strategy in the House of Representatives and in the Senate of the Philippines.

As a highlight of the Forum, BSWM Roadmaps for 2022-2023 were presented: Soil Conservation by Engr. Eduardo V. Alberto; SSIP Masterplan by Engr. Ernesto B. Brampio; Strengthening Soil Laboratories by Ms. Maribel R. Jalalon; Sustainable Soil Resources Management by Dr. Dante E. Margate; Agricultural Land Resources Management and Evaluation Roadmap by Mr. Bernardo B. Pascua; Soil Health Resource Mapping and Information System Development by Mr. Bertolio P. Arellano; National Soil and Water Resources Research and Development/Extension Agenda (2023-2028) by Dr. Karen S. Bautista; and BSWM Modernization Program by BSWM Assistant Director Denise A. Solano.

After the presentations, the participants were given the opportunity to ask questions or give comments regarding the discussions during the Forum.

Surigao del Norte 1st District Congressman Francisco Jose F. Matugas then had his Message delivered through video. His message focused on the Support to Enhancing the SAFDZ in Support to the National Land Use Act (NaLUA). This was followed by a presentation on Sustaining Agricultural Productivity in SAFDZ Areas in Support to NaLUA, by Mr. Bernardo B. Pascua.

Another presentation was delivered by Ms. Florfina P. Sanchez. This time, the presentation is on the Expansion of Regulatory Function of BSWM through Presidential Decree No. 1435.

Moving further, Director Nilo presented one of the earlier identified Ways Forward of the BSWM, which is on Strengthening Partnership, specifically the Updates on Philippines Soil Partnership and Philippine National Soil Laboratory Network (PhilNASOLAN).

Lastly, the presentation on the Action Framework on Soil Health in Asia (AFSHA) was conducted online by Dr. Lucrezia Caon, FAO-UN Rome, Global Soil Partnership Coordinator.

This Technical Forum was attended by representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), House of Representatives COMSEC, Department of Agriculture (DA), DA Regional Field Offices, Regional Soils Laboratories, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), Kalinga State University, and Romblon State University.

Joining online were other representatives from the FAO-UN, Department of Agriculture (DA), DA Regional Field Offices, Regional Soils Laboratories, DILG, DHSUD, SSU, MMSU, and MCDRM, among others.