Technical innovations and institution-building for upland development: The case of Landcare in the Philippines
D.C. Catacutan; A.R. Mercado, Jr.
Type of Document:
Conference Proceeding or Document
International Centre for Research in Agroforestry
Date of Publication:
Place of Publication:
Abstract: ICRAF has been conducting research on contour hedgerow systems for the past decade in Claveria, Misamis Oriental and Lantapan, Bukidnon in northern and central Mindanao, Philippines. Focus was much on accessing the management strategies that address key technical constraints of the contour hedgerow system. We observed that adoption by farmers was low for many reasons including high labor in establishment and maintenance of the hedgerows, resource competition above and below-ground, between the hedgerows and associated crops, limited value-added from the hedgerow pruning, and poor species adaptation. We concluded that low adoption of the conventional hedgerow system was not only due to some technical constraints but largely to socio-economic and institutional constraints faced by poor farmers in the uplands.
In view of this we refocused our efforts toward finding alternative systems that address the technical and institutional issues of conservation farming. We found that natural vegetative filler strips (NVS) provide simple solution to the technical constraints of soil conservation on sloping farms. NVS are buffer strips laid out on the contour in which natural vegetation is allowed to re-grow into thick, protective cover. NVS provides the following advantages: effective in controlling soil erosion by 95%, easy to establish and easy to maintain, and does not compete with associated alley crops. NVS also provide the foundation for farmers to evolve into complex agroforestry systems with fruit and timber trees and other perennials — thus, improve total farm productivity. We see now a tremendous surge of adoption of this system, enhanced by a dissemination approach called “Landcare”.