Ideas and Considerations
by Winfried Scheewe
Group of Advocates for Sustainable Agriculture, Inc.
National Highway, Mabua, Tandag. Surigao del Sur
Table of contents
Preface A. Introduction to coconut-based farming systems 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Why diversification of (coconut) farms? Options for diversification Examples of successful diversification, Principles at work Review of relevant SA principles Soil fertility management
B. Developing farm diversification plans: What do we have to consider? 1. What are the needs of the families? o Why is self-reliance/self-sufficiency important? o What can possibly be produced in the farm? 2. Possible cash crops: 3. Opportunities of the farm 4. Resources of the family 5. Farm planning References Appendices Checklist for farm planning Possible Fruit Crops Annual Crops suited for intercropping under coconut What a farmer-family buys in the market “Exchange rate” of Copra and Milled Rice ⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔
A note to the reader
This manuscript contains the major inputs of the author during the Training Workshop on Coconut Farm Diversification organized by KABAKAS, Inc., Davao City, conducted at Pundaguitan High School, Gov. Generoso, Davao Oriental, 28 - 31 May 2001. A great deal of the content presented here was actually not lectured but solicited from the participants through questions and group work. This allowed a much more intensive learning for all, including the facilitator or resource person. (Revised April 2003)
For a long time, coconut farmers were able to live with the fate of declining harvests and incomes. In view of the current prices, this is no longer possible. It needs changes. The best option coconut farmers have to improve their livelihood is to diversify their farms. Fortunately, common coconut farms allow the integration of many other crops or even livestock. In this regard, the coconut palm is an exception among the plantation crops. The practice of intercropping is common in coconut farms in many countries, especially in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and India. In the Philippines, where coconuts occupy about one fourth of the arable land, the ground in many coconut farms is still underutilized. One reason is the commodity approach of research institutions and the government agencies. For example, during the last decade the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has focused its work on a fertilization program with the aim to increase the production of coconuts. Looking at the current price of copra, the main coconut product, it is questionable if such an approach really helps the farmers. Hence, there is a need for more information on options to improve coconut farms. Because of the decreasing profitability, farmers tend to cut down coconut palms and replace them with other cash crops, usually planted as monocrop. Ecologically and economically, this might be unwise considering the potentials of coconut farms. Efforts to diversify coconut farms fall into the domain of agroforestry, which deals with the integration of tree and other crops. However, unlike other agroforestry options, which aim to integrate trees into field crop schemes, the task in coconut farms is to diversify by integrating among others vegetables, field crops, fruit trees, and multipurpose trees. It would be ideal if farmers can establish a highly diversified cropping system similar to coconut farms and coconut-based homesteads in Kerala, India. The numerous crop species in the homesteads serve the primary needs of the farmers’ families. Aside from food, the small plots provide fuel, fodder, timber, and cash. Considering the usually low level of self-sufficiency in food, the establishment of vegetable gardens can be the first step to improve the productivity of coconut farms. The integration of field crops can be another step. Preferably, this would include cereals, beans, peanuts and...