Sor­jan crop­ping sys­tem can be adopted in the PH

Agriculture - - Contents - BY JULIO P. YAP, JR.

WITH THE LA NIÑA PHENOMENON poised to neg­a­tively af­fect the coun­try this year, ac­cord­ing to pro­jec­tions, there is a height­ened need to de­velop tech­nolo­gies that will en­sure the adapt­abil­ity and eco­nomic sta­bil­ity of rice-based farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

As a re­sponse to the chal­lenges pre­sented by cli­mate change, ex­perts from the Philip­pine Rice Re­search In­sti­tute (PhilRice) have eval­u­ated the Sor­jan crop­ping sys­tem to max­i­mize farm pro­duc­tiv­ity and en­sure food se­cu­rity and the reg­u­lar in­come of farm­ing fam­i­lies in the Philip­pines.

Sor­jan, which was de­vel­oped by In­done­sian farm­ers, is a sys­tem that con­structs an al­ter­nate of deep sinks and raised beds.Its fea­tures can adapt to both dry and wet sea­sons. “This is a good cli­mate change adap­ta­tion tech­nol­ogy [for] both flood- and drought-prone rice ar­eas,” said Rizal G. Co­rales, lead of PhilRice’s In­ten­si­fied Rice-Based AgriBioSys­tems (IRBAS) Pro­gram.

In the flood-prone or swampy ar­eas, the sink im­pounds more water and can tame the flow of water.On the other hand, the raised beds and bunds con­structed in mak­ing the sink al­low farm­ers to plant dry­land crops such as veg­eta­bles and cash crops.

Co­rales ex­plained that the sink of the Sor­jan sys­tem can serve as a rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing or im­pound­ing mech­a­nism for farm­ers in drought-prone ar­eas.“The sink with the im­pounded water can be used for rice pro­duc­tion and other crops like gabi or kangkong, and for fish pro­duc­tion. The water stored in the sink can later be used for ir­ri­ga­tion.”

PhilRice ex­perts noted that the ideal di­men­sions of the raised bed is around three me­ters wide and 30 cen­time­ters (cm) above water level.The bund around the area, on the other hand, is about 70-100 cm wide and 30 cm high, while the sink for rice and gabi pro­duc­tion ranges from three to five me­ters wide and 30cm deep, and a deeper sink of about one me­ter wide and 1-1.5me­ters deep can be con­structed around the area for fish pro­duc­tion.

With the tech­nol­ogy, PhilRice highly en­cour­ages the in­te­gra­tion of rice, veg­eta­bles, and fish. Co­rales said that, de­pend­ing on the sea­son the veg­eta­bles that can be grown with the Sor­jan sys­tem in­clude egg­plant, pepper, to­ma­toes, up­land kangkong, bush beans, cow­pea, pechay, mus­tard, kale, lettuce, spinach, okra, corn, and herbs.The fish com­po­nent may in­clude cat­fish, gourami, or tilapia.The bund­scan be planted with okra and bush or pole beans.

The Sor­jan sys­tem also of­fers flex­i­bil­ity. Farm­ers may opt to plant vine veg­eta­bles like winged bean, bot­tle gourd, bit­ter gourd, ridge gourd, or squash on trel­lises as an over­head fea­ture right on top of the sink. As a di­ver­si­fied and in­te­grated farm­ing sys­tem,it en­sures food se­cu­rity, as the farm­ing fam­ily ap­ply­ing it will have var­ied sources of food.There’s rice for car­bo­hy­drates, fish for pro­tein, and veg­eta­bles with high nu­tri­tional value.

The sys­tem en­sures a more sta­ble in­come for the fam­ily be­cause of the reg­u­lar cash flow from the di­ver­si­fied and high-value crops. “Lit­er­a­ture cited that the Sor­jan crop­ping sys­tem can gen­er­ate an in­come up to 10 times higher than the in­come from rice with the same piece of land, which we are try­ing to prove,” Co­rales shared. As rice pro­duc­tion takes about four to five months, many rice farm­ers have lit­tle to no in­come while wait­ing for har­vest— some­thing Co­rales and his team ac­knowl­edge. This re­in­forces Sor­jan’s po­ten­tial to help farm­ers gen­er­ate in­come from other crops while they wait for rice har­vest­ing time.“With Sor­jan, pro­duc­tion can sup­port the fam­ily’s daily food re­quire­ments and ex­penses. Thus, [farm­ers can put their in­come from] rice [aside] as sav­ings or as cap­i­tal for other in­come gen­er­at­ing en­deav­ors,” Co­rales said.

To max­i­mize farm pro­duc­tiv­ity and re­duce pro­duc­tion costs, non-mar­ketable prod­ucts such as vegetable dis­cards or re­jects, weeds, and other crop residues and biomass can be used as feeds for live­stock, a sub­strate for mush­room, or for ver­mi­com­post­ing.

The sys­tem is con­tin­u­ously be­ing de­vel­oped at the In­sti­tute to iden­tify the right com­bi­na­tion of crops, and what crops can best adapt to this sys­tem. Nev­er­the­less, the IRBAS team en­cour­ages lo­cal farm­ers to try Sor­jan in their re­spec­tive farms with an area as small as 1,000 square me­ters.

The sink with the im­pounded water can be used for rice pro­duc­tion and other crops like gabi or kangkong, and for fish pro­duc­tion. The water stored in the sink can later be used for ir­ri­ga­tion.

The sink for rice and gabi pro­duc­tion ranges from three to five me­ters wide and 30 cm deep, and a deeper sink of about one-me­ter wide and one to 1.5-me­ter deep can be con­structed around the area for fish pro­duc­tion.

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