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swp salt 600px 2Farmers learn SALT from trainers before doing it in the field.

Malungon, Sarangani – In the Buayan-Malungon River Basin (BMRB), one of the main challenges is the potential loss of forest cover in the watershed within the next six to seven years. This loss of forest cover can lead to detrimental effects on the availability and quality of water resources in the area.

To tackle this challenge, USAID, through its Safe Water Project and in collaboration with the provincial government of Sarangani and the municipal government of Malungon, is supporting the adoption of natural farming practices and the establishment of demonstration farms focusing on agroforestry, diversified farming, and Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT). The entire Malungon area falls within the Buayan-Malungon River Basin (BMRB), the largest watershed in Sarangani. SALT is an effective approach for soil and water conservation in upland farming systems, particularly in sloping areas where annual crops dominate, leading to exposed soil surfaces and minimal vegetative cover. USAID has introduced the concept of infiltration canals in SALT-adopting farms, which serve as nature-based solutions to mitigate topsoil erosion, hasten groundwater recharge, and minimize surface water run-off.

Through training, 30 upland farmer-members of the Love of God Farmer Association in Barangay Ampon and 28 farmer-members of Nagkahiusang Kababaenhan ug Kababatanonan sa Barangay Lutay (NAKAKABALU) and Lutay Tribal Farmers Association (LUTRIFA) learned how to establish contour lines in sloping farms using a locally fabricated A-frame. They staked the contour lines, lined them with plastic twine to guide the digging of infiltration canals, and placed contour bunds. Along the contour bunds, the farmer participants planted seedlings of deep-rooting agroforestry species such as Robusta coffee, guava, and guyabano (soursop) at four-meter intervals.

swp salt 600px 1Training participants build contour strips.

The farmer-participants showed great enthusiasm in adopting SALT with these innovative techniques as they became aware of the destructive effects of topsoil erosion and the importance of improving cover crops on their sloping farms, particularly in relation to conservation of water resources. Two farmers from each trained group volunteered their farms as SALT demo farms and have scheduled follow-through coaching-mentoring activities. The Office of the Municipal Agriculture of Malungon will provide the seeds for planting.

By adopting and establishing demo farms for SALT with infiltration canals in the BMRB, the project aims to increase vegetative cover, mitigate surface water run-off, and contribute to the recharge of groundwater resources. (USAID/ Kent Tangcalagan)

 

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