Imagine yourself preparing a plan on how to win a critical battle against the Abu Sayyaf using a map indicating their positions which was drawn two months ago.

That would not only be a perfect formula for a certain defeat but that would be the height of madness.

Yesterday, in the first briefing I received from officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA), I found out that the soils analysis data used by the department in waging a war against hunger were actually gathered over 40 years ago.

The briefing, which was conducted by a special group called AMIA or Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture, was supposed to present to me the actions that will be taken to prepare the country for the effects of climate change and to indicate what crops are suited to be planted in which areas.

When the presenter started showing which areas would be suitable to rubber trees, I knew there was something wrong with the data.

Indeed, when I confronted them with questions on the accuracy of their data, they admitted that these are based on soil samplings done in the late 1970s.

An official of the Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) told me that they have been asking for additional budget for the soil mapping but the request was not granted.

I have no way of validating that claim.

In the end, I told the AMIA presenter and BSWM officials to submit to me an estimated budget requirement for the conduct of a national soil testing so that President Rody Duterte’s order for DA to come up with a Color Coded Agriculture Guide Map would be realized during the first 100 days of his term.

Why is a national soil sampling important?

A national soil testing and sampling is very vital in determining which region of the country could grow which crop best based on soil components and fertility.

Also, it would effectively guide the DA and the farmers in determining what nutrients are deficient in the soil in specific areas.

This is critical in determining what kind of soil nutrients or fertiliser should be applied to specific areas thus ensuring productivity.

I have given them a very short timeline though. I would like everything to be completed in 45 days.

What many have waited for 40 years to happen will have to be done within that short period of time because when the next planting season comes, I would like the farmers to be able to determine what crops to grow in their farms and what fertiliser to apply and use.

Success in agriculture is all about correct data, right strategy and immediate action.

While I have promised them all the funding support they need to accomplish the task, I also made it clear that if they fail, they will be asked to leave government.

That is how it is in the Duterte Presidency: Produce results or leave government to others who could do better.

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