Hope for the damaged agricultural soil

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By Danilo P. Padua, PhD

“ This is to advance the use of biofertilizers, biostimulants and soil ameliorants that are developed or extracted from formerly living organisms, for a more sustainable farming ventures in the long run.”

Sometime in October or November last year, representatives of local biofertilizer organizations resolved to finally establish an organization for the industry.
This is to advance the use of biofertilizers, biostimulants and soil ameliorants that are developed or extracted from formerly living organisms, for a more sustainable farming ventures in the long run.
This is actually long overdue. Since the advent of the Green Revolution more than 50 years ago, farm production tremendously increased, especially at the beginning. But this is at the great cost of so many things; soil degradation, environmental destruction, health problems, climate change, species destruction, etc.
The establishment of the Biofertilizer Industries and Organizations of the Philippines (BIOPHIL) is some sort of a light in a dim environment. Barely 3 months after its board was elected, it had already organized the first Biofertilizer Summit last April 16, 2024 held at the Bureau of Soil and Water Management main office in Quezon City.
The summit was attended by all DA Regional Executive Directors, Engr Roger Navarro, the DA Undersecretary for operations, other representatives of all 17 member organizations, farmers, and other government officials including an Asst Secretary from the Presidential Communications Office.
The participation of DA officials, and other government officials, is a good indication that something good could happen in the very near future. Unfortunately, some lawmakers that were actually invited to attend were not able to come due to previous commitments, and the short notice of the invitation. Some of them would have attended though if they did not have previous commitments.
The Summit was quite revealing in a sense.
Encarnacion P. Castillo, BIOPHIL chairperson said that biofertilizer has been in our midst more than 40 years ago, due to “the visionary leadership of former Pres FEM Sr. for the pivotal role of Sci and Tech , particularly biofertilizers, in shaping the future of Phil agriculture. President Marcos’ declaration to fund research and development institutes, including those at UPLB, laid the groundwork for the pioneering work that we continue to build upon today.”
Biophil, according to her, is twenty years in the making.
She added a challenge: “As we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, let us recommit ourselves to the principle of innovation, collaboration, and sustainability that have guided us thus far. Together, we have the power to realize Pres Marcos’ vision and position the Philippines as a leader in biofertilizer technology not only in Asia but on the global stage. Let us continue to work hand in hand, united in our mission to create a more prosperous and sustainable future for Phil agriculture.
After a brief statement about Biophil objectives, Dr. Nars Intal, the founding President immediately hit a good point : “ Biofertilizers, biostimulants and soil ameliorants are cost effective and sustainable alternative to chemical and inorganic fertilizers”
The Biophil group is a motley crowd; very diverse and differ in the most effective use of their respective products. That’s why Dr. Intal drove home the point that differences are not hindrances of forging a close and harmonious relationship, and that the coming together is something that augurs well in embracing a common cause; and fosters tolerance and respect among the members.
The two main officers of the organization actually spoke in general terms, reserving perhaps some details of what to be expected from the group sometime later.
Usec Navarro was more to the point. He talked of the need to preserve the health of the environment and the necessity to sustain agricultural production in the long run. In his view, there are four objectives that serve as guide for the DA’s actions: 1. It is a must to continue increasing farm production; 2. It is a must to create more and better employment opportunities especially in the countryside among the poorest sector of our society; 3 It is a must to endeavor to lessen production cost; 4.need to encourage more investments in the modernization of the country’s agriculture, (including use of technologies like use of biofertilizers).
The agency, as he averred, is focused on putting up a determined fight against hunger, and ensure food security
Navarro said that DA Sec Tiu Laurel is committed to take actions in a comprehensive manner in relation to the above so we could move forward in assuring food security.
It appears that Usec Navarro is cognizant of the role that biofertilizers can play to rejuvenate what he calls, “Masyadong matigas na ang lupal, no longer productive.” In 40 yeatrs, he said that the biofertilizer sector is one of the most reliable and resilient voices in enterprises that are responsible in preserving the health of the soil
“The present dire conditions of our agricultural soil is needed to be addressed properly,” noted Navarro. He reiterated that the DA would like to collaborate and cooperate with Biophil and its member enterprises in advancing balanced fertilization through the biofertilizer technology to increase farm productivity and income of farmers. This is as a matter of fact, a statement of support by the DA to Biophil.
The Usec expects Biophil to be involved in the improvement of our damaged soil. He poses a challenge though: “You shoul police your own ranks; deliver only the best quality; and never, never be involved in anomalies, overpricing, etc; and never to destroy again the industry (referring to some anomalies in the past).
In a parting shot, Navarro intoned a very encouraging statement. “Let us carry the biofertilizer on a pedestal where it belongs.”
I was a part of the Summit; and also provided some inputs. To me, all the words that came out of it feel good.
The challenges are :1. How can the collaboration between DA and Biophil be concretized?; 2.Will the DA commit more budget for the use of biofertilizers?;3. How soon can the collaboration be operationalized? 4. Can Biophil members really find unity in biodiversity?, 5. How should the situation of those involved in inorganic fertilizer marketing be addressed?, and many more questions begging to be answered.
Biophil should make a functional and doable plan soonest. And the DA should come up with the relevant, reasonable guidelines immediately.**


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