Give Priority to Watershed Management, LGUs Urged; Not Yet Too Late to Turn Things around, Former DA Head Says

Article excerpt

Byline: Dexter A. See

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Former agriculture secretary William Dar urged local government units (LGUs) in the Cordillera to give priority to integrated watershed management to prevent what he called "an alarming trend of land degradation" that could result in water scarcity and loss of biodiversity in the future.

Dar, who is at present director-general of the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in India, said that it is not too late in the day to turn things around and prevent the displacement of people in agricultural areas.

The first Filipino to occupy the top ICRISAT post and the chairman of the committee on science and technology of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Dar said that the key lies in a combination of good agronomy practices and integrated watershed management.

This prevents the erosion of top soil which is considered a major phenomenon that is traced to the opening of vast tracks of lands in the mountains to vegetable gardening.

Dar cited the urgent need to plant soil- and water-conservation plants such as pigeon peas, locally known as "kardis," as part of good agronomy practices.

Moreover, he said, while the concerned national government agencies have the technology, it is still up to the local government units to tap this innovation and focus their efforts on promoting sustainable development. …