My name is Daniel and I study nonprofit and voluntary sector management at Ryerson and adult education and community development at
I’ve been interested in ecological agriculture for some time mostly as a consumer rather than producer, but I have been fortunate enough to visit organic farms in
On August 14, 2008, I travelled to Pampanga, north of
The farm of Lito Malliare is situated in the shadow of Mt Arayat. His 6 hectare farm includes rice, vegetables such as eggplant and tomatoes, as well as sorghum and various fruit trees like calamansi, chiko, guava and santol.
Lito in long eggplant (talong) field
His rice, like all the crops he grows, is pure organic with the last conventional farming having taken place there in 1990.
PRRM’s Jun had conducted a seminar about SRI in this community in Pampanga where Lito’s friend had attended. Lito was interested in getting more information about this technique and Jun soon visited his farm to discuss it.
Jun demonstrating transplanting of rice seedlings for SRI
SRI also is often used in conjunction with organic, biodynamic, permaculture and other natural farming methods.
I saw micro-organism fertilizers like the one to the left being developed for the soil as well as botanical weed and pest “repellents”. Lito informed me that if the plant he sees on his farm is green and healthy, then he knows he can use it to counter weeds and pests because it must have naturally occurring resistant and pest repellent qualities in its genetic material. Lito prefers to call them “repellents” rather than “pesticides” and “herbicides” which imply killing. SRI teaches farmers to do, not to buy, which also frustrates the commercial interests of corporate agribusiness.
Despite the benefits to the health of people and the environment, one of the great difficulties in encouraging the transition from conventional to organic or SRI techniques, according to Jun, is changing mindsets. This has been becoming and continues to be exceedingly important as a result of the globalizing forces of capitalism that continue to destroy biodiversity and the environment in general while at the same time jeopardizing family farming as a viable livelihood. There is a network of about 25 People’s Organizations (PO) in northern Luzon (where Pampanga is located) that help to encourage demonstration farms that highlight the benefits of ecological agriculture for improving livelihoods. Since the price of petroleum based inputs of conventional farming had begun to skyrocket with the rapidly increased price of oil last year, more farmers were looking for alternatives, especially in learning how to make botanical inputs such as fertilizers.
Currently, there is little additional value reflected in the price of organic produce in local markets. That gives farmers less incentive to switch than their counterparts in countries of Europe and
One of Lito's SRI demo plots
The good news is that when I visited again with Lito before I departed the
Since my return to
* Uphoff, Norman (2004) “System of Rice Intensification responds to 21st Century needs” Rice Today. July-September 2004 p. 42