Friday, May 2, 2014

Blaan Traditional Upland Rice Resource Management in Kihan


 TURNER, JOSEPHINE C.University of the Philippines Open University. March 2008. Blaan Traditional Upland Rice Resource Management: Implications to Household Food Security and Cultural Survival in Brgy. Kihan, Malapatan, Sarangani Province.

Major Adviser: Maria Helen F. Dayo, PhD.

The Blaan indigenous peoples group of Brgy. Kihan, Malapatan, Sarangani Province had been growing diverse traditional upland rice varieties. However, there was no research done on their traditional upland rice resource management in relation to their household food security and cultural practices. The study attempted to attain the following objectives: (1) to make an inventory of the remaining traditional upland rice varieties grown by the Blaan tribe in Brgy. Kihan, Malapatan, Sarangani Province, (2) to document the rituals, belief systems, and other cultural practices associated with traditional rice varieties, (3) to identify the lowland influences that modified Kihan’s traditional upland rice farming practices, and (4) to determine the impact of a dwindling traditional rice resource on household food security and the survival of the Blaan rice culture.
Multiple methodologies such as the participatory rural appraisal technique, survey questionnaire translated into Visayan dialect, focused group discussions, mapping, community meetings and immersion in the upland rice farming communities were used in the conduct of the research. Data validation was also done with the Barangay Council, Tribal Chieftains, Sitio leaders, survey respondents and other residents in Brgy. Kihan.
 A total of 42 key farmer respondents surveyed onsite revealed that there are 108 varieties based on the Blaan farmers’ characterization. They have indigenous system of rice classification known as Mlal fali (short growing) and Laweh fali (long growing) varieties. Of the 108 varieties identified, only 46 varieties were collected and documented. The respondents also identified that there are 62 varieties that are diminishing and some 47 rare varieties are no longer found in their Barangay.
Blaan devotion to cultural ritual is closely tied to their traditional upland rice agriculture. Cultural rituals associated with their rice culture are distinct in each stage of the agricultural cycle as evidenced by different rituals that include mabah, bot tne, nlaban fali, tuke fali, pandoman, amgawe, and damsu.
Lowland influences that modified Kihan’s traditional upland rice farming practices include introduction of cash economy and paid labor, adoption of introduced hybrid rice varieties by some farmers, more farmers shifting to cash crops compounding future upland rice genetic losses, non-practice of rituals with shift to cash crops, and increased use of synthetic fertilizers. The change of mindset of the Blaan upland rice farmers affects their sense of volunteerism. Some of the lowland influences have resulted in hunger, more poverty and indebtedness of the farmer to the financier or a middleman.
            Traditional upland rice resource management in Brgy. Kihan is characterized by subsistence farming. However, current scenario of dwindling upland rice resource posed threat to their economic and cultural survival. With few varieties available and the impact of lowland influences, Blaan farmers realized that they have smaller upland rice farms and smaller rice harvest that is not enough to sustain the growing family members coping for household food security which affects the sustenance of their cultural practices.

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