One of the important drivers of the economy in the Philippines is agriculture due to the fact that more than one-third of the country’s nearly 90 million people depend on agriculture and fishing for a living.
In developing countries, farmers often cannot afford seed to plant the crops that would provide for their families. Craftsmen lack the means to pay for the tools to ply their trade and others have no land, water and education to lay the foundations for a secure future. The poverty-stricken do not have enough money to buy or produce enough food for themselves and their families. Hence, they tend to be weaker and cannot produce enough to buy more food. Indeed, the poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.
Agriculture provides food because of the best suited soil for root crops, such as; rice, corn, potatoes, mangoes, pineapples, coconuts, bananas and etc., in the Philippines. In fact, the nation is one of the largest importers of rice in the world, leaving it particularly vulnerable to high and volatile rice price. Traditional agricultural practices with small landholdings have limited the productions and earnings capacities of farms due to the scarcity of agricultural areas, high cost of irrigation and most especially, food shortage in different areas in Western Visayas. Hence, agriculturists looked for other agricultural interventions toward the issue to be rectified. Thus, a promising alternative solution of this issue is multiple cropping method on rain fed lowland farms.
Multiple cropping is the intensification of land use by increasing the numbers of crops grown on the same piece of land through efficient and timely utilization of farm resources, such as; a.) fertilizers, b.) chemicals, c.) new methods/technologies in farming and d.) farm household labor. The idea of multiple cropping is to increase farming productivity, farming profitability, and farming income through KABSAKA (Kabusugan sa Kaumahan) technology that was initiated by the National Food and Agricultural Council (NFAC) in 1971. Expanding the utility of KABSAKA is to include the latest advances in rice production technology. Also, to showcase a double rice crop and an upland crop in a year for a rain fed environment.
In 1974, the Bureau of Agricultural Extension (BAEx) in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippines Council for Agricultural and Resources Research (PCCAR) stated a series of pilot test sites in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo, with the goal of establishing a pattern of multiple cropping method in rice areas which depend on rain for water requirements. The pattern was found satisfactory in terms of productivity levels in rice production with a rice-upland or vegetables pattern. Furthermore, the fist rice crop was dry-seeded before the onset of the monsoon season in late April or early May, the second crop was a wet-seeded rice in early September, and the third crop was an upland crop of vegetables (preferably mongo beans, eggplant, tomato, or watermelon) for planting in December or January when the soil exhibits a sufficient amount of moisture to warrant crop growth. The third crop was something that had not been practices before. Hence, farmers were able to gain extra income and food supply for their families.
In November 1976, the Iloilo Pilot Extension Project, created a code-named KABSAKA (Kabusugan sa Kaumahan, it means “bounty on the farm”) was started in Sta. Barbara, particularly in Brgy. Calaboa este. They were able to come up with a certain organization with a fifty initial members covering 89 hectares through the auspices of IRRI and PCARR. These people undergone training at the University of the Philippines at Los Baños and IRRI.
August 28, 2013, we went to Sta. Barbara to visit the first place in Iloilo that experienced and still continuing the multiple cropping method in farming. Sta. Barbara is located in the centermost part of Iloilo and it is 12-kilometer or 20 minutes drive north from the city of Iloilo. It is accessible by both land and rail transportation. This place has a thick soil, fertile and suitable for raising newly kinds of agricultural products. There are no commercial forests, brush lands, open land, marsh or swamps within the municipality and ninety-five percent of the town’s land is cultivated. Sta. Barbara has consistently maintained its position as the main food-producing center in the province and ranked first in vegetable production.
According to Mrs. Waling Waling Terania, head of the Municipality of Agriculture said, that Sta.Barbara has an abundant agricultural areas and that is why the place was chosen to be a pilot site for multiple cropping in Western Visayas. Particularly, in Brgy. Tigtigan and Caloboa este started the multiple cropping and it is a World Bank funded, eventually it was spread to other 7 barangays in Sta. Barbara. The main reason for having this technology is to alleviate poverty and to improve farming method.
She also reiterated that the population is increasing but the agricultural areas and productivity are decreasing, thus they embrace the new method of farming which is multiple cropping. Multiple cropping is a farming method where by farmers will plant different crops on the same piece of land before the onset of rainy season. She mentioned that early planting would provide early production because they could harvest their crops earlier than the other farmers. A lot of different crops are being planted on the same piece of land that based on the location to make sure that the crops are suitable to the soil. In that way, farmers would be able to sell their agricultural products in a higher amount because of early production.
Mrs. Terania and the current members of KABSAKA are conducting seminars/ training and disseminate salient information about the multiple cropping through printed and broadcast materials. They always update the farmers in Sta. Barbara so that they would improve their farming method, especially to those who are not yet in farming industry because they could really find a livelihood from these different strategies in farming. In rural areas, productive agricultural areas are limited because people depend on the food grown by farmers; it means that if a framer cannot plant more crops; is equivalent to less food and people will go hungry.
Indeed, role of education in farming is important to have the latest information on how to grow food efficiently and economically. It is important to be knowledgeable of the new techniques and technologies because change is constant in this world. The traditional agricultural practices may diminish as we approaching the modern agricultural world. They are proud of the multiple cropping method due to the fact that it could easily combat food shortage and unemployment since all people in all walks of life are welcome to be a part of KABSAKA farmers.
As she said, “ang mga tawo gabata apang ang mga tanum kag talamnan wala gid kong indi paghatagan sang pagtamod”, from this statement they wanted to awaken the minds of the people, especially in rural areas that Iloilo has an abundant natural resources that we need to utilize and maximize through articulating new strategies or methods to develop and share it with other people. A progressive agricultural society could support other sectors of the economy like manufacturing, trade and services by supplying the needed raw materials, hence when a country aim of industrialization, it needs to widen and improve its agricultural production– one of the goals of multiple cropping.
But expanding production alone is not enough to develop the agricultural society, because we have to remember that country’s population should be considered and their services. Through this, it would be more vibrant exchange between productive society that would take place and progress in both urban and rural areas. This discussion was ended with a genuine smile from the head of the Municipality of Agriculture in Sta. Barbara because they were able to contribute an idea that was turned into a reality through KABSAKA: A Multiple Cropping Method, this is a big change in farming industry. With this method, KABSAKA farmers have to make use of multiple propounded by the technicians that brings a positive changes in farm input usage, cropping pattern and intensity in production and productivity levels which would bring farm income growth.
Many of today’s developed economies first strove to strengthen their agricultural sectors. Agriculture has an important role in the overall objective and effort to rectify economic issues. The different agricultural ideas are resulted in significant advancements in the people’s knowledge and understanding the essence of environment. Alongside efforts to expand production, it is necessary to improve people’s condition in order to strengthen their capacity as consumers and producers because in making decisions with regard to the benefit, both parties are important to be more productive in economic perspective.
People would be able to develop other capabilities to further improve their lives and eventually resulted to the invention of different farming strategies and tools that could help to do their task efficiently and effectively. Indeed, it is always say that agriculture is the basis for the development of the country.
Farming Benefits. Retrieved August 31,2013 from http://www.fao.org/isfp/country-information/philippines/en/
Importance of Agriculture.Retrieved August 31,2013 from http://pulse101.hubpages.com/hub/The-Importance-of-Agriculture-to-the-Philippine-Economy
Valenciano, Alexander Q.; An Impact Assessment Report On Multiple-Cropping Project (KABSAKA) Sta. Barbara, Iloilo