Indigenous women farmers planting upland rice in now-controlled-slash-and-burn areas
Palawan, Philippines, June 18, 2019.
By Jessie Cereno, Talakatha Creatives.
Indigenous women farmers in Bataraza, southern Palawan, Philippines, plant upland rice in now-controlled slash-and-burn areas. Bataraza is a municipality nestled in the foothills of Mount Mantaligahan, 140 km south of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, Phiippines. Within the vast Mount Mantalingahan mountain range lies the Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape. Covering 120,457 hectares of forest, this protected area serves as the headwater of 33 watersheds and is home to many highly-endangered wildlife species. In terms of farming, slash-and-burn agriculture has been used by the local communities for many generations, but its effect in today’s diminishing state of natural resources has been destructive and unsustainable. The USAID-funded Protect Wildlife Project, in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is helping indigenous people improve upland farming and strengthen local livelihoods so they won't need to expand their slash-and-burn areas or resort to wildlife poaching just to make ends meet. These women farmers have been taught the proper upland farming techniques, such as using a minimum land area for inter-cropping of vegetables and fruit trees. Slash-and-burn agriculture causes deforestation, accidental fires, habitat and species loss, increased air pollution and the release of carbon into the atmosphere, which contributes to global climate change.