By DA-AFID and StratComms

In adapting to the “new normal,” the Department of Agriculture (DA) will reinvent itself along with its regional field offices, bureaus, and attached agencies to stay relevant and worthy of existence.

“We cannot go back to yesterday. We must use our past achievements to rebuild our institutions, like that of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM). The ‘new normal’ brings us to really reinvent our agencies, including our plans, programs, and activities to be relevant,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar, during the 69th founding anniversary of the BSWM, June 8, in Quezon City.

“Reinvention needs a lot of courage to drop what is not anymore relevant during this ‘new normal,’ and focus on four major areas: soils, water, farming systems, and policy advocacy,” the DA chief added, instructing the men and women of the BSWM, led by Director Sonia Salguero.

He said the DA-BSWM should continuously rejuvenate the country’s ‘sick’ soils through a scientific and efficient management program to ensure farm productivity and optimize crop yields.

“I am very passionate in campaigning for rejuvenation as it enables the soil to regenerate and restore the lost nutrients throughout the years, making it healthy and productive once again,” he said.

Thus, he underscored that sustainable land management remain as one of the key initiatives of the DA-BSWM to attain the country’s vision of a food-secured and resilient Philippines with prosperous farmers and fishers.

The second major task of the DA-BSWM is to ensure good water management, particularly efficient use of water as a scarce resource, and obviously the key and lifeblood of agriculture.

The DA-BSWM should also be lead agency in promoting diversified farming technologies and systems, most particularly in rainfed and upland areas.

Diversified farming systems, like on agro-forestry and crop-livestock, serve as vehicles to ensuring sustainable food production with minimum impact on the environment, and at the same time providing marginal rainfed and upland farm families, including indigenous peoples, additional sources of livelihood and incomes.

Lastly, Secretary Dar cited the need for the DA-BSWM to craft sound policies to support the three major areas in pushing for a food security development framework that is science-based, inclusive, climate-smart, and resilient.

He also urged the agency to partner with the local government units to enhance and efficiently transfer modern soil and water management technologies to farmers, and to transform all regional and provincial research stations of the DA family into model agri-tourism sites that showcase modern, productive and resilient agriculture.

“Ensure that the work that you do will improve practices by farmers in various ecosystems,” he said, noting that part of staying relevant and reinvention is to develop new researches focusing on soil health and sustainable agriculture with regenerative agriculture.

“No pandemic can bury our dreams and aspirations. No lockdown can slow us down. Let us turn challenges into opportunities to survive,” he concluded.

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