Ecological Features Of Swidden Farming Studied
Kaingin, also known as swidden farming, is not really that destructive as the term usually connotes. On the contrary, it promotes plant diversity, preserves indigenous plant varieties, provides organic fertilizer, and provides food for some biotic components of the ecosystem.
This is based on a study conducted by Prof. Anacleto Caringal and Mars Panganiban of the Batangas State University in the biodiversity corridors of Southern Batangas.
Study revealed that subsistence and cash crops in kaingin farms enhance plant diversity. Observed in the farms were about 10 species and 10 genera of vegetables; seven genera/species and six families of rootcops; 13 species of fruit crops distributed in 10 genera/families; five species, three genera and two families of legumes; four genera of at least three families of spices and condiments; and four forage and pasture species/genera under three families.
The researchers also noted that swidden farms serve as repository of traditional crop varieties. Rice varieties (“malagkit”, “inuway”, “pinilik”, “inabaka” and “tinalahiban”); native corn (“putian”, “lagkitan”, “pula”); and leafy vegetables (“kulantro” and “biri”) have been preserved in these farms.
Phytomass decomposition in the site from the harvest of corn, rice, peanut, and camote in swidden farming provides organic fertilizers. They are used as green manure and mulches for garlic and other agricultural crops. Instead of burning the organic materials, they are recycled and brought back into the soil, thus restoring soil fertility.
The researchers also noted the availability of food for other biotic components in the swidden environment such as grains, cereals, fruits, and rootcrops for animals.
The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development was one of the evaluators of the swidden farming project during the Research and Development Symposium of the Southern Tagalog Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium.