Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

The case of rice-fish farmer Mang Isko from Dasmariņas, Cavite, Philippines

by Frank V. Fermin, Mary Ann P. Bimbao and Jens Peter Tang Dalsgaard

Household profile

Mang* Isko is a 66-year old farmer. Together with his wife, who is 60, they have eight children most of whom are grown-ups and living away from home. The only son is married and living with his wife and children near the farm of Mang Isko. This son helps Mang Isko in the day-to-day management of the farm. Two daughters are attending high school and still live at home. Two older daughters, who are working in Japan, send P4 000/month to support the education of their younger sisters.

Mang Isko's farm transect (lowland farm)

Mang Isko's on-farm material flows

Farming systems

Mang Isko farms 2.3 ha of lowland with access to irrigation water from the National Irrigation Administration distribution system. Two rice crops are grown in 1.44 ha. Half a hectare is devoted to rice-fish culture. In some years, gourd is planted on the rice-fish dikes after the second rice harvest. Other vegetables occupy 0.14 ha of the farm where bittergourds are planted in the dry season and relayed with stringbeans in the wet season. The remaining 0.2 ha houses 1 pig in a 15 x 12 m shed and the rest of the area is grown to fruit and fodder trees and grasses.

Rice-fish subsystem

The 0.5 ha rice-fish system is composed of eight individual fields with side trenches. Two rice-fish plots have adjacent pond refuges in addition to the trenches. One rice-fish plot has an adjacent pond which is managed as a breeding pond. Mang Isko practices rice-fish culture in both wet and dry seasons and harvests two crops of rice and fish in a single year. However, when he plants gourd on the rice-fish dikes after the second rice-fish crop, he does not have a dry season rice-fish activity. In such occasions, the fields are drained and the fish are kept for growout in the pond refuges.

Combining fish with rice has doubled Mang Isko's rice yields in some cropping seasons. He attributes the increase in yield to these factors:

Rice-fish culture practices

1. Land preparation, construction and maintenance

Mang Isko's monthly cash flows, showing cash expenses (cash outflows) and income earned (cash inflows) in one-year operation of vegetable production, rice monoculture and rice-fish culture

Mang Isko's calendar of farm activities

2. Rice transplanting and management

Mang Isko's monthly cash flows of all farm operations

3. Fish stocking and management

4. Fertilizing and feeding

5. Pest and disease management

6. Harvesting

Monthly cash flows


As a whole, farming for Mang Isko was profitable. At the end of the year, he earned P45 233.80. He used this money primarily to sustain his wife and two children. A part of this was spent in upgrading his living condition, that is, he was able to improve his house and to purchase a refrigerator and a television set.

Issues for further consideration

The location of this single-household case study in Cavite, south of Manila, is classified as peri-urban, which has relevance on opportunities for sale of farm products. The area has undergone industrialization in the last decade and most of the farms have been bought up and the aggregated land converted to housing estates or factory installations.

Nevertheless, the case study illustrates the way the adoption of a rice-fish component has allowed further diversification on the farm. This is also based on labour availability and market opportunities for the new products. Part-time off-farm employment played an important role in household income for farmers in the area.

The farmer learned about integration opportunities from interactions with IIRR field staff. As most farmers are leaseholders, they need permission from their (usually absentee) landowners to modify the farm, i.e. dig deeper trenches and fish refuges, or even fishponds. This permission is often not granted.

* «Mang» is a respectful address for an elder in the Philippines

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page