Written by the Web Team
The Aetas, who are part of the one of most disadvantaged groups in Philippine society, are now learning the latest techniques in upland rice farming – thanks to the recent establishment of an Upland Rice Development Program-Farmer’s Field School (URDP-FFS) in Lupang Pangako, Zambales.
The Aeta community has settled for two decades now in the area, where they learned to farm, after the eruption in Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 displaced them from the areas where they lived.
The URDP-FFS seeks to teach upland farmers on latest technologies on upland rice production, improve current rice farming practices, and organize farmers so they can be assisted by funding institutions.
With improved rice farming technology, the promise of Lupang Pangako will be literally unlocked and empower the Aetas economically and socially.
“We want these indigenous communities to be organized and be recognized by the government because they are usually neglected,” Julian Macadamia, a PhilRice Upland Rice Technologist said.
Lupang Pangako has a potential for crop production if farming practices are improved, according to Crisostomo Rabaca, senior agriculturist of Iba, Zambales.
The Aetas themselves have expressed interest to learn more about agriculture, especially in organic farming.
Warlito Amigable, agricultural technologist of Iba, Zambales, said that they can teach different ways to make organic fertilizer, and that there are many things that can be done to enhance farming in the area. FFS sessions with the community was agreed to be conducted once a week.
The URDP-FFS has already reached other upland communities in Aurora, Bulacan, Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija.
The FFS sites are chosen based on the following criteria: at least one hectare flat land to 18 degrees slope; accessible to transport or walking; and with potential for soil and water improvement and management. Existing upland rice areas in the stiff hills may be considered on a case-to-case basis.