DA, LGUs told to prioritize rehab of watersheds

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/9 Feb) – The Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) and concerned local government units (LGUs) to prioritize rehabilitation of watersheds in Mindanao which have crucial impact on the farming system in the island.

This developed after the BSWM found out on its survey in three watersheds – Linamon in Lanao del Norte, Gigaquit in Surigao del Norte and Kinabangan in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte – that surrounding farm areas have “low productivity”.

Dr. Silvino Tejada, BSWM chief, said in a press statement that climate change or weather occurrences like the La Niña and El Niño have presented many challenges to small farmers who rely on the watershed areas for many 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 Niña,” said Tejada.

The agency’s survey on the Kinabangan 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 also showed that 4,250 hectares or 68.53 percent of its total land area could potentially host agribusiness activities, among them planting the high value commercial crops like fruit trees and vegetables (e.g., sweet pepper, pole sitao and ampalaya).

Industrial crops could also be planted in the land, the survey 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 around 1,824.79 has. or 88.26 percent of the lands of the Linamon watershed as potential sites for high value crops cultivation.

Similar sets of findings were also made by the BSWM on the Gigaquit watershed, which boasts the largest area among the three watersheds evaluated potential for agribusiness sites.

The BSWM recommends to the DA and concerned LGUs to make interventions for the development of Linamon and Gigaquit watershed areas, particularly, proper organic and inorganic balance fertilization and composting, introduction of improved and modern farming technology, among others.

With a total area of 21,843 has. that could be planted to high value other crops, the BSWM said the development of the three watershed areas presents vast development potential in agriculture business in Mindanao.

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

The MDRP2 – implemented through the DA and jointly 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)