by Ramon Efren R. Lazaro
THE traditional practice of kaingin (slash and burn) farming by upland farmers can be avoided if certain farm technologies are implemented.
This was the assessment of Nenita Desamero of the Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Division of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
PhilRice noted that kaingin farming is practiced by upland farmers, especially those in the Cordillera region. It involves the clearing of an area to be farmed by slashing or removing all types of plants and trees, and burning the uprooted plants. In some cases, the plants and trees are simply burned to clear the area for farming.
This type of practice depletes the nutrients of the soil and upland farmers search for other areas to clear and burn after their initial kaingin area no longer has the capability to grow their crops.
To demonstrate to upland farmers the viability of using up-to-date farming technologies, the experimental farm of Rey Castro, station manager of PhilRice Bicol, was showcased during the Farmers’ Field Day held in Lagangilang, Abra.
The technologies used were: infield water harvesting system; drip irrigation; bio-charcoal use; use of hedge rows; use of canals in water harvesting, trapping eroded soil; and breaking the flow of water to mitigate soil erosion and nutrient loss.
One of the problems in upland areas is lack of water because of high elevation.
Castro explains that bio-charcoal, with its high water-holding capacity, may be incorporated in the soil as they did in their experimental farm. It is also good for sandy soils that easily lose water. He further explained that bio-charcoal is high in organic matter that improves the soil.
“We do not encourage, though, for farmers to cut and burn trees to get charcoal. There are many other alternative sources of charcoal like rice straw,” Desamero said.
In field water-harvesting system, which is a novel way of harvesting rainwater in drought-prone areas, can also be used by upland farmers.
Other than solving the problem of limited water supply in the uplands, other technologies can be integrated by farmers. For example, hedge rows like marigold, cow peas and cassava can be used.
Castro pointed out that “because of the sloping areas in upland farms, soil erosion is common.”
“Hedge rows will reduce, if not prevent, this to happen,” he added.
Hedge rows break the velocity of the wind to lessen its effects on rice crops. Its foliage can also be used as compost, and its produce can provide additional income.
Cover crops, like camote, can also be planted to minimize the direct force of rain to the soil, which in effect prevents erosion.
Desamero explained that with various technologies available, it is no longer impossible for upland farms to achieve sustainable production.
“The challenge now is to bring these technologies to the people of Abra,” Noel Bignalen of the Abra State Institute of Sciences and Technology said.
He said they are looking forward to adopting a municipality, not only a barangay as they used to, in promoting various farming technologies.
Bignalen also emphasized the need to increase rice production in some areas in Abra, citing the situation in the municipality of Tineg where people need to get rice from other municipalities.
“The use of these technologies will lead to food security and rice self-sufficiency. We hope that it will be presented to the communities through their local government units,” Desamero said.
Ramon Efren R. Lazaro
Slash and burn farming is environmentally destructive. It should be strictly banned. Encouraging the implementation of the above new farming techniques in the uplands is a good intent. It is just a matter of getting the farmers and planters to be interested and be motivated to work their land for optimum production. Perhaps, one way of ‘enforcing’ work for farm production is by ‘pre-consigned future harvest’ arrangements with a cooperative. This means that a harvest -production is committed in advance to a guaranteed ready buyer – the cooperative. This discourages ‘ningas cogon’-ism ( slack attitude), sloth and inactivity and motivates the farmer to use novel agri-techniques in order to harvest a good yield. One more important thing that should not be taken for granted is for the local authorities to prioritise having water available for people’s use and for irrigation even while using agri-techniques that will not require substantial water flow.
Lucky that we have valleys or mountains with all the necessary factors which define the meaning of a viable ecosystem. If not the visible and invisible forest guardians, our forest should have denuded long time ago because of our unending poverty in the far flungs areas. But how come they could not stop mining which is the number one cause of forest exploitation or depletion? Kaingin is just a little problem comparing to this monster problem esp. during rainy seasons.
The new technologies in farming is a welcome scheme to increase farm productions and to avoid furthr forest destructions and eventually cause erosions and landslide. But there are 2 main reasons why these new farm tech will not succeed under Abra conditions. First, we don’t have enought available water to use although we have enormous water wasted down to to the open sea in I.S. We need water supply similar to that in Ikmin river used by the municipality of Manabo. I mentioned once on issue of the miserable life of Tineg people on water reservoir to be constructed, even just in the numerous tributaries to be used not only for producing rice but also commercial volume of bananas, pineapple, avocados, commercial trees etc., and for scientific cattle farming. In my experiences in my visits to US, I saw thru the airplane windows from south ca. to northwest along the pacific coast that the mountains are denuded. There are only sporadic trees near the seashore but countless of dams are visibly seen scattered everywhere. Result, California produces more than enough fruits,beef, vegetable n other biproducts like honey, flowers n milk.
Second reasond, Pilipino by culture is not susceptible to desirable changes. (Sorry, If I am wrong) we tend to adjust ourselves more on negative things than what are adventageoue to general welfare. This is farther agrievieted by lucking the will to ask questions; for being misconstrued as being nengneng nga saan nga makawawat. Unlike Russians, Americans n Europeans who are inquisitives, always ready and eager to ask questions for clarifications for their advantages. However, the introduction of these technologies is general welcomed; let’s be optimistic and hope for best results.
Usaren la koma daguiti farmers-sen deta slan-n-burn technique a mangibos kadaguiti rinoker nga politikon! he he he
slash kunak koma. . . sorry for the inconbiniens and angsayati.
ayanna dagita nga technologies. Ipadananun yo a.
Iti nakayanakak nga probinsya ken ili ket slash and burn method met laeng idi inggana naibos iti kayo ken nattianan dagiti ubbog nga agapu kadagiti banbantay. Maudi iti babawi nga talaga.
Ditoy abra ket saan pay nga naladaw ti amin. Bring those technologies here sakbay nga mattianan dagitoy agkakapintas ken nagbabaknang nga karayans yo.
Joma, Noel Bignalen of ASIST says in the article that they ‘are looking forward to adopting a municipality….. ‘ to bring in the technologies. Article translation: The whole thing is STILL just newsprint propaganda at this time. (In other words, it is still under category of ‘things-to-do’. The technologies mentioned are still drawings in the air. Until such time that implementation or practice of them actually happens, they will still just be PLANS. It is therefore perhaps sensible to keep abreast with available information on this by getting onto the tail of ASIST to hasten the delivery and implementation.
i beg to dis agree with nhennessy,those technologies are not drawings,they are there being implemented in sub saharan regions already ,like harvesting water in mountain mists,catch basins,drip water farming in israel and many more but i do AGREE with you that such plans are NON EXISTENT here in ABRA. perhaps apo noel bignalen of asist is still suffering from a severe HANG OVER for drinking too much HENNESY !
la ipapantayo nga addan dayta nga teknolohia ditoy ngem no awan ti mangpundo a gobyerno lokal,kasano ngarud nga pumayso?mabalin kadi nga kumali lattan ni mannalon ti abot tapno agbalin nga infield water harvesting,wenno canal water harvesting? mula a kamotit,kahoy to prevent soil erosion kuna da,ngem ar aramidenen ni mannalon daytoy ken saan a baro a TECHNOLOGY because PRIOR to the birth of APO BIGNALEN agmulmulan ti kahoy ken kamotit ni lolong ko !
Kara: Every government agency especially DENR has substantial fund for their projects but the problem is, they are equally corrupt if not worse than our local elected government officials. I had been there but resigned some 20 years ago because I can no longer stomach their evilness. COA, Budget personnel are all in connivance in devouring people’s money but I can’t blame the ordinary personnel for they have kids that need college education. But others esp. the bosses, naulimek lang isuda ngem buaya met la amin dagitoy nga saan a kas kadagiti nababa nga empleado nga limited laeng ti mabalin da nga pagputaan.