The Philippines has climatic conditions suited for year-round production of crops and other food stuff needed by its population. However, one of the major problems of the country is lack of basic food supply and the skyrocketing of prices of farm products. To maintain affordable prices of basic foods there should be increased farm productivity. farmers should employ technologies of the integrated farming system so that they can maintain their income and at the same time produce farm products needed by the people at affordable prices. The integrated farming system enables farmers to maximize the utilization of their land and its resources.
Basic Features of the Ideal Integrated Farming System
- There are simultaneous cultivation of various crops and raising of animals in a given piece of land within a period.
- In this system, some minor components are integrated to major components to save labor and use excess nutrients.
- The Integrated Farming System is designed to use energy and nutrients in the most efficient manner.
- Animals are designed into the system to utilize their wastes and by-products man cannot use.
- The system exhibits redundancy. Each function meets more than one need and each need is met more than one function.
- Integrated farming system starts simply but through careful observation and analysis of areas resources evolves into a more complex, stable system because the waste of one component are utilize for another components.
- The caretaker's house is constructed near the component that requires the highest level of management.
- Integrated Farming System assures a more even use of labor throughout the year since several farm activities are being undertaken.
- In the system, diversification of production can be done through growing high-valued, off-season crops, crop rotation, and increased fodder production for livestock.
- Integrated Farming System adopts the bio-intensive gardening approach.
Cropping Patterns and Practices in an Integrated Farming System
- Upland rice-based farming system. This farming system suitable in rain or naturally irrigated areas with rice as the major or basal crop integrated with other upland crops. Example: rice+root crops+mongo+native chicken
- Lowland rice-based farming system. This farming system is suitable in artificially irrigated areas which utilize rice as a major base crop integrated with other types of crops. Example: rice+fish+gabi+corn.
- Coconut-based farming system.This is a system of farming where coconut serves as the crop integrated with other kinds of crops and animals. Example: coconut+mango+cattle
- Orchard-based farming system. This refers to the growing of fruit trees as major crops integrated with other crops and animals raising projects. Example: banana+jackfruit+cacao+poultry
- Forest-based farming system. This is a system of farming where major crops are forest plants integrated with other kinds of crops. Example: mangrove+prawn+carp+ducks
Some Points to Consider in Managing an Integrated Farm
- Careful planning and implementation. Proper planning prevents poor performance. A good plan will guide the manger, the supervisor, and the workers in implementing a project. Since the result of a project is based on what was planned, the plan should be carefully thought out so that the main goal of the project will be achieved. A project feasibility study should be made first to serve as a basis in preparing a workable plan. In implementing the plan, every step should be studied carefully to minimize errors and waste of time.
- Prioritization of the components according to the required level of management. A manager of an integrated farm should always give first priority and the highest level of management to a project component that may be higher risk. In example, the farmer should put more focus in raising chicken rather than in growing mahogany trees.
- Careful choice of types and varieties to be raised. To make the enterprise more profitable, the manager of an integrated farm should be able to choose high quality products with high market potential. Considering that the farm will be using the same time and effort for production, it is wise to raise high quality plants and animals.
- Keeping and maintaining the farm's production records. This will help the raiser in upgrading the farm's stock and maintaining the purity of their breed. Productivity records also help the raiser trace the history of his her stock and provide ready answer to buyers asking the sources of the variety or species of plants and animals raised in the farm.
- Observance of proper timing for planning and stocking, harvesting, and marketing in accordance with market demands. This will ensure the market potential of the product and raise the net income. The raiser should know when there are great demands or peak season of his or her products. For example, a poultry raiser can program his or her broiler production so that the stock can be harvested and marketed during the Christmas season when the demand for poultry is high.
- Practice force cropping whenever possible. This will ensure the raiser of high net returns because there are great demands for out of season crops and these are sold at extremely high price.
- Strict implementation and observance of proper medication and prevention programs. It is important, therefore, that the mortality rate in the integrated farm should be kept at the lowest level. this can be achieved by preventing the introduction and infestation of pests and diseases in the stock.
Qualities of a Good Caretaker
- Ability to plan, organize, direct, and control small or large scale production.
- Love for plants and animals.
- Knowledge of the nature and characteristics of the plants and animals being raised.
- Patience and industry.
- Good judgement.
- Business ability.
- Decision-making skills.
- Ability to forecast.
- Good public relations.
- Practice good timing. The time to harvest plant crops and sell animal products varies depending upon its kind and varieties and the purpose it will serve. to get a better price for crops and animals products, the farmer know when supplies are low and demand for specific goods are high.
- Protect the plant and animal product from injuries through careful harvesting and post-harvesting techniques. Injuries will greatly reduce their market potential.
- Group your products qualitatively. Products must be graded according to size and quality since they can be priced differently. Plant products of the same variety must be grouped accordingly.
- Be careful in harvesting and storing farm products that produces sticky soap and juices. Improper handling of this products would greatly affect their marketability.
- If possible work up a direct-to-consumer system of marketing farm products. Marketing through a middleman should be avoided. In most cases, middlemen gain more profit than the farmers.
- Practice collective selling. This system of disposing farm products could strengthen the farmer's bargaining power for a better price. Collective selling also ensures fast and reliable disposal of the products.
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