Duterte OKs P523-M program to revitalize country’s sick soils


President Duterte has given the Department of Agriculture (DA) the green light to start a national health soil program (NHSP) meant to rehabilitate the country’s soils.

This is to sustainably increase the country’s crop production amid the consistent increase in food prices worldwide.

The program, which will begin this year until 2023, will receive a funding of P523.27 million. It will institutionalize the agency’s national soil monitoring and rejuvenation program, establish modern mobile soil laboratories to monitor soil health, improve soil analysis for macro and micronutrients and develop manuals to improve the indicators used to check soil health.

Soil test kits will be distributed to farmers.

“As soil is the foundation of agriculture, we must therefore protect, preserve and nurture it to sustainably produce adequate, affordable and nutritious food for all Filipinos,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar. “With the NHSP, we now have a science-based framework to rejuvenate our sick soils that will subsequently lead to increased crop harvests and farmers’ income.”

The NHSP is patterned after the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics’ (Icrisat) own soil rejuvenation program known as “Bhoochetana” between 2009 and 2012. Dar oversaw this program having served as Icrisat’s director-general from 2000 to 2014.

Through Bhoochetana, farmers in India were able to increase their crop yields by 23 percent through the adoption of soil test-based nutrient management recommendations, the use of quality seeds and soil and water conservation measures.

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