Agriculture - - Intensification -

IN­TE­GRAT­ING FARM­ING AND AQUA­CUL­TURE Fea­tured in the Au­gust 2015 is­sue of Agri­cul­ture Mag­a­zine was the In­te­grated Agri­cul­tureAqua­cul­ture (IAA) farm­ing prac­tices, which could also help farm­ers get more out of their land while help­ing con­trib­ute to food se­cu­rity. RICE-BASED FARM­ING is ex­pected to in­crease the in­come of farm­ers while of­fer­ing con­sumers health­ier op­tions. Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Eufemio T. Rasco Jr., of the Na­tional Academy for Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy un­der the Depart­ment of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy (NAST-DOST) and a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Philip­pine Rice Re­search In­sti­tute (PhilRice), the ap­proach re­quires di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, in­te­gra­tion, and in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of farm­ing prac­tices.

“In­stead of rice mono-crop­ping, farm­ers should also grow other crops and live­stock along­side rice,” Rasco said. “With the use of ex­ist­ing mod­els like [those for] ver­mi­cul­ture, mushroom pro­duc­tion, mung­bean, corn, gar­lic, duck, and fish, [which] can be grown and main­tained along­side…rice, farm­ers will have re­duced de­pen­dence on rice as [their] main source of in­come.”

Rasco high­lighted the sig­nif­i­cance of “Palaya­manayan,” a PhilRice ad­vo­cacy that aims to trans­form a com­mu­nity of farm­ers into agri-preneurs. Its scope is not lim­ited to crops and live­stock but also cov­ers fish and ver­mi­cul­ture as it is meant not only to achieve house­hold food se­cu­rity but to con­trib­ute to na­tional food se­cu­rity as well.

Un­der Palaya­manayan, ev­ery­thing rice farm­ers haveon their farms serves a pur­pose. Though rice is the main crop, veg­eta­bles and live­stock are in­te­grated to op­ti­mize the over­all farm sys­tem and in­crease farm­ers’ in­come sources. Ducks and fish can also help with pest con­trol and added in­come; azolla can also be planted as source of or­ganic in­puts. “Noth­ing is wasted in the closed loop method,” said Rasco, adding that with rice-based farm­ing, con­sumers may also try other sta­ple crops such as kamote, cas­sava, white corn, brown rice, and par­boiled rice. Rasco also em­pha­sized that the con­sump­tion of brown rice is in line with the Brown4Good cam­paign of PhilRice. Brown rice is rich in di­etary fiber, mag­ne­sium, se­le­nium, and other mi­cronu­tri­ents while help­ing re­duce the risk of colon can­cer.

Un­der the in­te­grated farm­ing sys­tem, the World­Fish Cen­ter said farm­ers should set aside a small area of their land for fish farm­ing. Such farms are more sus­tain­able, pro­duc­tive, and prof­itable than tra­di­tional farms that rely on slash-and-burn crop­ping, it added.

In­te­grated farm­ing al­lows farm­ers to pro­duce around 1,500 kilo­grams of fish per hectare each year, pro­vid­ing high-qual­ity pro­tein for their fam­i­lies and giv­ing them an­other source of in­come. World­Fish said the net in­come of those who in­te­grate aqua­cul­ture into their farms ex­ceeds that of non-adopters by about 60 per­cent. Their farms are also 18 per­cent more pro­duc­tive dur­ing times of drought, in­creas­ing farm re­silience and help­ing en­sure food se­cu­rity for the farm­ers and their fam­i­lies.

Ac­cord­ing to the World­Fish, the tech­niques to be adapted are sim­ple and low-cost. Fish are fed corn bran and house­hold left­overs, while ma­nure from goats, chick­ens, and other farm an­i­mals helps fer­til­ize the ponds.

In ad­di­tion to us­ing wa­ter from the ponds to ir­ri­gate corn fields and veg­eta­bles in their gar­dens dur­ing the dry sea­son, farm­ers can also cul­ti­vate cash crops like ba­nanas around the banks of their ponds.

Pond sed­i­ment can be great fer­til­izer, and World­Fish re­search

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