NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur: Mono-cropping and migration have contributed to the demise of upland traditional agricultural practices of Bicol’s indigenous peoples (IPs), a research project of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PRRI) in Los Banos, Laguna, showed.
Jacqueline Canilao of the PRRI said their research, titled Anthropological and Socio-economic Characterization of Bicol’s Agta Indigenous Peoples, began in 2012 and covered four IP communities in Albay and Camarines Sur provinces.
Mono-cropping or cultivation of a single commercial crop like corn and outward migration of young Agtas from the four communities to the lowlands in search of employment hastened the disappearance of upland agricultural practices and crops like rice.
The study showed that the desire for quick return of capital in market-driven crops like corn, the high cost of farm inputs to cultivate this cash crop, the near absence of roads and the lack of job opportunities compelled the young Agtas to abandon farming as a source of livelihood altogether and leave an ageing and dwindling number of farmers.
Canilao said the lessons PRRI learned in its Palayaman project in Mindoro prompted the research on the Bicol IPs.
In Mindoro, change and improvement of the IPs’ lives does not only depend on the introduction of new farming technologies but also draws from their traditional socio-cultural practices, that is, in the diversity of agricultural products as well as traditional, local and scientific knowledge.
The results of the study are contained in four coffee table books: Voices of San Pedro, Modern Gatbo, Growing Danao and Understanding Joroan, Misibis and Mayong, which were launched here and attended by some 40 Agta IPs from the four communities.
San Pedro is a mountain barangay (village) in Iriga City, Gatbo is in Ocampo, Camarines Sur; while Danao, Joroan, Misibis and Mayong are located in Albay, particularly in Malinao, Tiwi and Cagraray Island, respectively.