From a sugarcane monoculture to a diversified farming system - Transforming the land
The gradual and difficult transformation of a sugar cane monoculture farm to an integrated and diversified farming system is described, using the case of a small family farm in the Philippine province of Negros Occidental. In 1984 the Oray family decided to change their farming practices to achieve food security for the family, to improve control of the entire production process, and to make optimal use of the natural resources available to them by nutrient cycling. The transformation involved conversion of intensively farmed sugar cane land to rice, land levelling to improve water management, direct marketing to neighbours to avoid middlemen, planting maize and vegetables for home consumption, keeping a few livestock such as a sow, some piglets, and chickens, raising a water buffalo for animal traction, extension of the farm from an initial 1.3 ha to 3.5 ha, the introduction of crop rotations based on leguminous crops such as groundnut, soybean, mung bean, and cowpea, farm forestry, the adoption of biological pest management strategies to control snail damage in rice by planting taro and dispersing rice hulls, using cassava as a catch crop to keep rats away from rice seedlings. These and other changes have made it possible for the family to meet their needs and have made life less risky than it used to be.