DA, LGUs told: prioritize rehab of watersheds

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 February) — The Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) and local government units (LGUs) to prioritize rehabilitation of watersheds in Mindanao, saying this has a crucial impact on the farming system on the island.

The call came following the BSWM survey that showed the farming areas around the Linamon watershed in Lanao del Norte, Gigaquit watershed in Surigao del Norte and Kinabjangan watershed in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte, have “low productivity.”

In a statement, BSWM chief Dr. Silvino Tejada said climate change or weather extremes like the La Nina and El Nino phenomena threaten small farmers who rely on the watershed areas for things like water supply and soil erosion protection.

“If the watershed area is not in good condition, it would be very impossible for it to support a farming community, especially with climate change and excessive rainfall caused by La Nina,” said Tejada.

BSWM’s survey on the Kinabjangan watershed disclosed that its soil, land and water resources are “over exploited and beyond its capacity resulting to low productivity of various farm areas”.

The survey said that 4, 250 hectares or 68.53 percent of its total land area could potentially host agribusiness activities like planting of fruit trees and vegetables.

Industrial crops could also be planted in the land, it added.

For the Linamon watershed, the agency’s evaluation revealed that “soil, land and water resources are optimally utilized and hence, resulting to low productivity of farm areas”.

The agency has identified 1, 824.79 hectares or 88.26 percent of the lands of the watershed as potential sites for cultivating high-value crops.

BSWM obtained similar findings on the Gigaquit watershed which has the largest area among the three watersheds evaluated for possible agribusiness use.

The agency recommended to DA and the LGUs to balance the adoption of both organic and inorganic farming systems in the three watersheds.

With a total land area of 21, 843 hectares, the sites offer vast potentials for agribusiness in Mindanao, it said.

BSWM is involved in the Mindanao Rural Development Program – Adaptable Program Loan Phase 2 (MRDP2), which is a poverty alleviation initiative. Its task is to conduct soil and land resources evaluation.

The MDRP2, implemented through the DA and funded by the World Bank, national government and LGUs, aims to increase rural incomes and achieve food security through agri-fishery infrastructure, livelihood enterprise, and biodiversity conservation projects. (Rico Biliran/MindaNews)