“Committed to continually improve towards excellent customer satisfaction.”

This is one of the Quality Policies of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM) being an ISO 9001:2015 Certified National Government Agency. Now more than ever, the BSWM remains true to this commitment, among others – to continually progress for the benefit of the sector that we serve, the farmers and fisherfolk.

In 2021, amid the peak of the pandemic, the DA-BSWM has been in constant pursuit towards the attainment of its mandate on the sustainable management of soil and water resources for agriculture. For one, the agency has conceived another Research Center – the NSWRRRDC in Upland Pedo-Ecological Zone (UpPEZ). This is through the efforts of the BSWM Management headed by Director Gina P. Nilo and Assistant Director Denise A. Solano, and the National Soil and Water Resources Research Development Center (NSWRRDC) Highland Pedo Ecological Zone (HighPEZ) headed by its Chief Mr. Henry Apolinares. Previous BSWM Managements were also recognized for this success. The Facility was funded by the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) Research for Development (R4D) under the leadership of Director Junel B. Soriano.

After its conception, preparation, and coordination, the remarkable moment has arrived – the toiling has come into fruition. The DA-BSWM NSWRRDC UpPEZ is now birthed. And on 24 October 2023, at Sitio Marilog District, Davao City, the NSWRRDC UpPEZ Research for Development (R4D) Facility was inaugurated. The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, the Unveiling of the Marker, and the Walk Through around and inside the Facility marked this important day.

The Inauguration Ceremony Proper started through the Prayers led by NSWRRDC HighPEZ Supervising Science Research Specialist Ms. Sharon Cachopero, and Tribal Leader Datu Fuentes Tumindog.

DA-BSWM Director Gina P. Nilo then warmly delivered her Opening Message for the Ceremony. She started by the declaration of overflowing blessings upon the place. Director Nilo furthered by extending gratitude to the Tribal Group for being able to sustain the place. She then emphasized that the Ceremony is a celebration of partnership and friendship between and among the agencies and groups – thus encouraging everyone to use the place as a show window through the agency’s technologies. “This is an expansion of our territory, of our blessings,” Director Nilo stated.

In order to provide deeper understanding on the development of the NSWRRDC UpPEZ, HighPEZ Chief Mr. Henry A. Apolinares provided the Overview of the Project. He mentioned that the 50-hectare parcel of land will be utilized for the conduct of research and for scaling up of technology demonstration for the NSWRRDC UpPEZ. The Marilog District in Davao City was selected as the target site because DaRUARS is located in the area which is an Upland Research Center of DA-RFO XI.

The Project Overview was followed by Messages from DA-BAR Director Soriano, DA-RFO XI Director Abel James I. Monteagudo, and DA-Undersecretary for Finance Usec. Agnes Catherine Miranda – representing Senior Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban.

In his Message, Director Soriano emphasized the importance of having an UpPEZ Research Center. He said that the UpPEZ is considered as the future of agriculture, taking in consideration that 50% of the Philippine lands is upland, and a number of Filipinos live in such.

Director Monteagudo then expressed in his message the gratitude towards the Tribal Group for the help in the land. Director Monteagudo also enthusiastically shared among the attendees a brief story on the conception, coordination, and series of meetings for this land.

DA Finance Undersecretary Agnes Catherine T. Miranda delivered the Message on behalf of Senior Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban. According to the Senior Undersecretary, as uttered by Undersecretary Miranda, “I am confident that a decade from now, we will see more and more evidence of the purpose and meaning of this facility – the volume and quality of our upland harvest.”

From her own words, Undersecretary Miranda then recognized the opportunities from the Upland areas, thus enjoining the BSWM in preparation for the 2025 Plan and Budget proposal.

The Ceremony was officially closed by DA-BSWM Assistant Director Solano. She extended her heartfelt congratulations to the BSWM NSWRRDC HighPEZ for successfully pulling off the Ceremony. Assistant Director Solano also mentioned the BSWM’s gratitude to those who have contributed to this success.

Other attendees to the Ceremony were the former BSWM Director Pablo M. Montalla, BSWM Division and Center Chiefs and Admin Units Representatives, Davao City Agriculturist Mr. Edgar Haspe, Davao Agricultural Research for Upland (DaRUARS) Chief Ms. Jessel F Cardines, the Tribal leaders, and members of the Tribal Groups in Marilog District.

The establishment of the NSWRRDC UpPez was once a dream, and now a reality.

Indeed, the DA-BSWM UpPEZ has arisen. And it will move forward from this day on.