A technique that was introduced by the World Agroforestry Centre (WAC) is paying off in Mindanao. This is the technology called Conservation Agriculture with Trees (CAT). Some 10,000 farmers in Mindanao have adopted the technique that is now preventing soil erosion and has become an insurance against damages from climate change.
An example of CAT’s annual system is the growing of banana between rows of trees planted along the contour of sloping lands. Another example is the growing of corn with cowpea intercropped with rubber, banana trees and forage crops.
The combination of rubber trees, bananas and forages as contour hedgerows provide soil binding and anchorage that reduces, if not eliminate, soil erosion and landslides during extreme rainfall events.
There is also the “perennial” system where perennial trees like rubber are intercropped with cacao and Arachis pintoi (creeping peanut, a ground cover) during the first two-three years before tree canopy closes, enabling sunlight to grow food crops.
Rubber trees in cacao production will improve cacao’s productivity; cacao requires shade which the rubber trees cn provide. Meanwhile Arachis pintoi fixes nitrogen from the air which complements the fertilizer requirement of cacao and rubber trees.
CAT turned out to have increased profitability of cassava with A. pintoi from 492% to 863% after four years. Moreover, corn and Arachis pintoi yielded 778% higher than conventional maize at 5,250 kilos per hectare. (press release)