December is the most wonderful time of the year. For the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) of the Department of Agriculture, December does not merely portend the season for the Holy Day of Christmas but correspondingly signifies as the month when we celebrate the World Soil Day. The BSWM has always been a part of this advocacy since 2015.

In collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO), the BSWM with its Agricultural Land Management and Evaluation Division (ALMED as the organizer, celebrated the 2021 World Soil Day with the theme “Halt soil salinization, Boost soil productivity” on December 6, 2021.  Various activities relative to its theme were conducted. One of which is the WSD hybrid or virtual Event Program where The Director of the BSWM, Engr. Pablo M. Montalla acknowledged the participants from different agencies who attended both on site and online. Similar activities by the BSWM are being conducted annually as a manifestation of our continuous support in sustaining and managing the agricultural lands and water resources.

The celebration paved opportunities not only to government agencies but also to the academe, the youth and the public. ALMED launched the WSD Online Exhibit posted in the BSWM Website providing information on the causes of Soil Salinity. Ms. Jovette L. Tenorio, Senior Agriculturist and one of the Section Chiefs of ALMED, introduced the National Mapping, Characterization and Development of Spatial Database for the Coastal Areas Affected by Salinity, one of the Outputs of Salinity Project under ALMED. 17 maps were  posted for reference and will be updated by 2022.

The newly-appointed Food Agriculture (FAO) Representative  in Philippines, Ms. Kati Tanninen was invited and delivered a message of gratitude for the contribution and unwavering support of the BSWM in annually celebrating the WSD and also in the protection, conservation and management of the agricultural lands. Soil degradation has always been a crisis here in the Philippines. It is vital to protect, preserve and invest on soil management and development and consider the possibilities of investing more on holistic sustainable and efficient intervention.

The Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Dr. William D. Dar, who has been one of the greatest advocates of soil conservation delivered his message by encouraging us to fight against soil salinization and improve the awareness of the individuals and communities throughout the world. Let us be Soil Protectors and raise Global Soil Awareness.

In support to the Global Soil Awareness, the BSWM conducted a Nationwide Photo Contest posted through social media inviting everyone around the Philippines to join and capture the best frame showcasing this year’s theme. We have received many entries and shortlisted only ten (posted at the BSWM Official Facebook Page and BSWM Website). We were thankful to all the participants and the committee who have made this activity possible.

Nationwide Photo Contest Winners

The BSWM also conducted a Webinar in relation to this year’s theme and invited speakers from the different divisions of the bureau and attached agencies. All the topics were very informative. All the materials used in their presentations were uploaded at BSWM Website for reference.

“Alleviating the Effects of Salt-Affected Soil in Rice Production Through Development of Saline Tolerance Rice”
Mr. Christopher C. Cabusora
Senior Research Specialist

“Measurement of Soil Salinity and Interpretation”
Ms. Ina Mae B. Leoro
Science Research Analyst
BSWM Laboratory Services Division (LSD)

“Groundwater Assessment of Salinity Intrusion in Selected Micro-Basins”
Engr. Eduardo V. Alberto
Officer-in-Charge, BSWM Soil Conservation and Management Division (SCMD)

“Mapping of Salt-Affected Soils of the Philippines using FAO-GSP Framework”
Mr. Andrew Flores
Supervising Science Research Specialist
BSWM Geomatics and Soil Information Technology Division (GSITD) in collaboration with Soil Survey Division (SSD)

It was a great experience for everyone. Our very own, Assistant Director Dr. Gina P. Nilo has given her closing remarks quoting, “God is good all the time”. She thanked all the participants onsite and online,  all the Regional Field Offices and attached agencies who showed their unending support to all the activities of the BSWM. She also acknowledged and congratulated the ALMED who hosted this year’s WSD Celebration and all the committee who contributed to the success of this event.