Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Farming as a Way of Living

Dr Abe V. Rotor

Harvest time, acrylic AVR

Farming is a way of living,” says the dean of farm management in the Philippines, Dr Felix D. Maramba, quoting Eugene Devenport who said that farming is not only a business, but a mode of life. “Sometimes the business is the prominent feature, so successful that life seems to run on one long sweet song. Sometimes the business runs so low that life is a bitter struggle.”

The farm and the family home is intertwined; in fact they are one.

Anything that affects the farm as a business also affects directly as a home. The farm operator is the head of the household and the bulk of the farm work is done by the members of the family. The farmer is the farmer 24 hours a days, on weekdays as well as on Sundays and Holidays.

The children are brought up in close contact with nature. They develop an appreciation of the manifestations of the Creator through living things and their order. The farm boy does not have to wait until he is grown up before he can work and share family responsibilities. He is brought up early in the family business. In this way he will learn the value of industry and a sense of proprietorship early in life. The work habits and resourcefulness developed by farm children are kept throughout their lives.

This old school of Dean Maramba may not be the model progressive farmers are looking for today, but definitely the better farmer is the entrepreneur who grew up with farming and pursued training in technology and farm management, and has gain the confidence and skills in transforming the traditional concept of a farm into an agribusiness and therefore, he has a better chance in dealing with the complexities of world of the agriculture and business.

Make the correct decisions in farming.

Farming is no easy task. It is full of decisions - decisions based on socio-economic principles, and guided by rules of conduct and natural laws and of society. These are 10 guidelines in decision making.

1. Surplus labor resources of typically large rural families should be directed to labor-intensive projects, such as integrated farming.

2. Hillside or upland agriculture requires the cultivation of permanent crops, preferably through mixed cropping, such as intercropping of coconuts with orchard trees and annual crops.

3. Coastal and river swamplands should be preserved as wildlife sanctuaries, and should be managed as an ecosystem, rather than an agricultural venture.

4. Wastes can be recycled and converted into raw materials of another enterprise. Farm wastes and byproducts of processing can be processed biologically into methane, organic fertilizer, and biomass for vermiculture.

5. Productivity of small farms can be increased through pyramidal or storey farming. Batangas and Cavite farmers are well known for storied multiple cropping.

6. Poor soils can be rehabilitated through natural farming, such as green manuring, crop rotation and use of organic fertilizers, all integrated in the farming system. Corn-peanut, rice-mungo are popular models of crop rotations.

7. Cottage industries are built on agriculture, guided by profitability and practical technology. It is time to look at the many agro-industries, from food processing to handicrafts.

8. Tri-commodity farming maximizes utilization of resources, such as having an orchard, planting field crops, and raising fish and livestock on one farm.

9. Cooperative farming is the solution to economics of scale, these to include multipurpose and marketing cooperatives of farmers and entrepreneurs.

10. Since the number of days devoted to farming is only one-third of the whole year, livelihood outside of farming should be developed. Like a sari-sari store, a small farm cannot afford to have too many hands. Other opportunities should be tapped outside of farming by other members of the family.

Get rid of waste by utilizing them.

Agricultural byproducts make good animal feeds, as follows:

• Rice straw, corn stovers and sugarcane tops, the most common crop residues in the tropics, contain high digestible nutrients, and provide 50% of the total ration of cattle and carabaos.

• Rice bran and corn bran are the most abundant general purpose feed that provides 80 percent of nutritional needs of poultry, hogs and livestock, especially when mixed with copra meal which is richer in protein than imported wheat bran (pollard).

• Cane molasses is high in calorie value. Alternative supplemental feeds are kamote vines for hogs and pineapple pulp and leaves for cattle.

Here is a simple feed formula for cattle: Copra meal 56.5 kg; rice bran (kiskisan or second class cono bran) 25kg; molasses 15kg; Urea (commercial fertilizer grade, 45%N) 2.0kg; salt 1.0kg; and bone meal 0.5kg. Weight gain of a two-year old Batangas cattle breed fed with this formulation is 0.56 kg on the average,

These are byproducts which have potential feed value: These are byproducts or wastes in the processing of oil, starch, fish, meat, fruit and vegetables. The abundance of agricultural by-products offers ready and cheap feed substitutes with these advantages.

• It cut down on feed costs,

• reduces the volume on imported feed materials,

• provides cheaper source of animal protein,

• provides employment and livelihood, and

• keeps the environment clean and in proper balance.

Protect nature through environment-friendly technology.

One example is the use of rice hull ash to protects mungbeans from bean weevil. Burnt rice hull (ipa) contains silica crystals that are microscopic glass shards capable of penetrating into the conjunctiva of the bean weevil, Callosobruchus maculatus. Once lodged, the crystal causes more damage as the insect moves and struggles, resulting in infection and desiccation, and ultimately death.

This is the finding of Ethel Niña Catahan in her masteral thesis in biology at the University of Santo Tomas. Catahan tested two types of rice hull ash, One is partly carbonized (black ash) and the other oven-burned (white ash). Both were applied independently in very small amount as either mixed with the beans or as protectant placed at the mouth of the container. In both preparations and methods, mungbeans – and other beans and cereals, for that matter – can be stored for as long as six months without being destroyed by this Coleopterous insect.

The bean weevil is a cosmopolitan insect whose grub lives inside the bean, eating the whole content and leaving only the seed cover at the end of its life cycle. When it is about to emerge the female lays eggs for the next generation. Whole stocks of beans may be rendered unfit not only for human consumption, but for animal feeds as well. It is because the insect leaves a characteristic odor that comes from the insect’s droppings and due to fungal growth that accompanies infestation.
There are many kinds of vegetables you can choose
for backyard and homelot gardening.

Let’s aim at unifying agriculture and ecology into agro-ecology. This is what practical farming is all about. ~

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