No More Sleepless Nights
The story of Marina Ular of Clarin, Misamis Occidental, Philippines
Marina Ular, a widow from Clarin, Misamis Occidental, Philippines, used to have sleepless nights during full moon and strong typhoons. She used to worry that water from the nearby sea would intrude into her farm and damage her rice crop, resulting in poor or zero harvest. Pail in hand, she would go back and forth to her farm to see if saltwater is coming in; and when it did, she would pail out the water from her farm to no avail.
These days, Ular sleeps soundly even when there is strong typhoon or the full moon causes sea water to rise and flood her farm. She is confident that the new rice variety she planted— Salinas—could tolerate salt water.
Salinas is a rice variety that Ular herself selected during a farmer field school (FFS) on rice that she and her neighbor-farmers attended. In that FFS, the farmer-participants tested no less than 15 rice varieties for adaptation to the saline condition of their soil. Ular was able to select the variety Salinas.
Ular planted 3.5 kg of Salinas from their harvest in the FFS in her 350 sqm rice farm. The variety, which matures in 110 days, yielded 330 kilos of rice grains. Ular’s neighbors were awed with the performance of the variety that four of them asked for some Salinas seeds. They noticed that apart from its high yield and minimal use of fertilizer, it was not attacked by pests, which coincidentally wrought havoc in the municipality during that period.
Salt-water intrusion into rice fields ranks first in the Climate Change Hazards in Clarin, according to the Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) conducted by SEARICE in the municipality. It usually happens during the full moon, new moon, and during heavy downpours. It is usually experienced by farms during the months of January, June, and December.
If the intrusion comes during the vegetative stage, the seedlings eventually die, resulting in zero harvest. If the intrusion comes during the reproductive stage, there is a 50% reduction in harvest, resulting in low income.
But now that they are using the Salinas variety, many farmers can now afford to sleep through high tides and typhoons.