Chapter 2 Agriculture
When learning about Ifugao culture, it does not take long to realize that almost everything evolves around agriculture in Ifugao. Traditionally Ifugaos follow a chronological cycle of agricultural work. Other than the well-known wetland rice cultivation, they also manage swidden agriculture on the slopes of a mountain above the rice terraces, and use the forest on the mountains for hunting and collecting timber for firewood and construction.
 

1.1        Rice farming

Figure 3: Tinawon rice (on the left) and two new varieties
 
The traditional rice variety of Ifugao is called tinawon, literally meaning “once a year.” The tinawon rice has different variants in different colors, but generally, it grows to up to 1.5 meters tall, has a growth span of 5 to 6 months and the grain is short (Figure 3) and semi-sticky after cooking.
 
If agriculture is the core of the Ifugao culture, the tinawon rice may be the core of the Ifugao agriculture, as almost all agricultural activities, in the rice fields, swidden farms, or forests, are arranged based on the growth period of the tinawon rice. To understand this, a legend of tinawon may be a good place to start.
 
In Ifugao, it is believed that the tinawon rice was given to the people by an Ifugao God. People have different versions of the legend. One of them (Dulnuan-Habbiling, 2014) says that, on a hunting trip two young Ifugao brothers followed their dog into a place where Liddum, an Ifugao God resided. The brothers’ hunting of a wild pig prompted Liddum and his people to investigate. After explaining the purpose of the hunt, which was accepted by Liddum, the two brothers shared some of the pork with Liddum and his people. To their surprise, Liddum and his people gobbled the meat with uncooked rice. The two brothers realized that people did not know how to cook their food and so they cooked the meat with some rice and invited Liddum and the people to eat with them. The people were amazed at the aroma and taste and also found out that cooked rice was filling with only a small amount consumed.
 
Liddum then offered to share some of his animals for the brothers’ fire but the brothers would rather trade for the aromatic large grain rice. Liddum accepted. Before he handed over two bundles of his Skyworld rice, he taught the brothers rice rituals and told them that it is important to perform the rituals starting from sowing up to after harvest.
 
Before the brothers went home, Liddum told them “by observing the rituals properly and religiously this rice variety will maintain its aroma and taste and also be free from pests and diseases.” He continued, “and there will be good harvests which can last for an entire year.”
 
The two brothers then returned home with this rice and later shared the seeds with other Ifugaos. After getting the rice and tasting it, Ifugaos started building rice fields on mountain slopes. Now the rice fields are known as Ifugao Rice Terraces and the rice is called tinawon.
 
However, the tinawon rice is being phased out from the terraces as farmers change their rice variety to high-yielding ones with a shorter growth span[1].
 

1.1.1        Reasons for the fading of tinawon

One major reason of giving up growing the tinawon rice constantly mentioned by all farmers interviewees is that the low productivity[2] cannot sustain the growing population[3]. According to one, the tinawon rice is susceptible to pests and that the plant “gives very few tillers, only 4, 5, or 7″ (BW3). Therefore, “economically it is not enough even for food consumption. It cannot provide food for the family. So when they learned about second cropping [producing an additional season of rice in a year], they tried and they found it effective” (KE7).
 
What makes the tinawon relatively less productive is the long growth span. Therefore, it is naturally not comparable with the newer varieties, which take “only 114 days and we can harvest, [but] with the tinawon I think 4 to 5 months” (BW1). While drying her just harvested new variety rice, a woman told me that even though she did only one cropping, she still planted the new variety because of risks of typhoons in July and later months. Therefore, with these new varieties “at least they will have a better provision for the whole year” (KE3).
 
Besides low productivity, the difficult practices of harvesting and processing the tinawon rice were mentioned as well. One interviewee said, “the hardest thing to do with the tinawon is you have to get it one [panicle] by one [panicle], unlike the new variety [which] you can gather in a group. There is a big difference in labor and time, and you can do [thresh] it with a mechanical thresher so the work becomes easier” (BW12). Another interviewee admitted, “I am lazy to pound my native rice” (BW2). Apart from these disadvantages of the tinawon rice, one additional reason farmers, especially those who have large areas of rice field, tend to grow the new varieties is that with the higher yield they can sell the rice “as an additional income to the family.”
 

1.1.2        Effects of growing the new varieties

This change in rice variety has extensive effects on the practices of rice farming. Ifugao farmers are proud of their traditional way of growing rice. Everything is done by human labor and there is no use of synthetic chemicals.
Figure 4: Farmer trampling rice stalks in the soil as fertilizer after harvest
 
Fertilizers
When growing tinawon rice, farmers “do not use fertilizers for the native rice because it is naturally grown” (BW16), instead they “got grass from the forest as chemicals [organic fertilizer]” (BW9) (Figure 4). This practice of organic farming is changing. “Now nobody does that. They use the chemical water [synthetic fertilizer]” (BW9), said one interviewee. This happens as a result of growing an extra season for rice “because the rice stalks will not decay and [therefore there is] no organic fertilizer” (KE10) and “when we don’t use fertilizer, it will not produce more” (BW1). Explaining the advantage of the synthetic fertilizers, one farmer said, “it is very easy. Just broadcast…After you till, you apply, and after how many days and months you can see the effects… But you know in the past, you see the effect of the organic fertilizers after a long time. People cannot wait for that because they want it as fast as possible” (GW8)[4].
 
However, most interviewees disagreed on the use of fertilizers. One of them said, “if the farmers think of the reason of reduction [in production], it is they are not cleaning[5] the rice field” and “they [who use fertilizers] are lazy. That is the accurate answer. They are lazy to clean” (GW5).  Meanwhile, some farmers also think there are environmental consequences of using fertilizers because “those commercial [synthetic] fertilizers in the field, they destroy the soil” (BW4) and “when you put commercial [synthetic] fertilizers, maybe by the third year you will need more fertilizer. …The soil changed. That is the problem. But if you plant once a year, [there is] no problem” (RF4).
 
While opinions divided among the interviewees on the use of synthetic fertilizers, almost all, including the farmers who use fertilizers, shared the same opinion that rice grown with synthetic fertilizers tastes different and is not as healthy as that grown in the traditional way.
 
Some alternatives to the use of synthetic fertilizers were promoted by both the government and some farmers’ cooperatives. The government and some agriculturalists are teaching farmers “to use organic [fertilizers] and not the fertilizers they [stores] are selling” (KE3) and some farmers are “trying little by little dispensing [with] commercial [synthetic] fertilizers” (GW8). Meanwhile, a farmers’ cooperative is also “encouraging them [cooperative members] to do the natural farming system, the organic farming system that they were doing in previous years” (BW3).
 
Pesticides
 
Pests were believed to be a result of the introduction of the new rice varieties as well. A research on the status of apple snails (Ampullariidae) infestation in Ifugao determined that farmers believed when the new rice varieties were promoted, seedlings raised in the lowlands were transplanted to the terraces and the seedlings could have borne eggs of the apple snail (Joshi et al., 2001). Another reason mentioned by some farmers was that the snails were introduced as a weed control agent, without awareness of the damage to the rice crop[6] (Joshi et al., 2001).
 
Many farmers believed that the infestation came with the intensification of rice farming from an annual cropping cycle to a double-cropping cycle. Originally, when there was a uniform annual cropping season, farmers synchronized their work in the field. After harvesting the rice, they “made all those mounds (Figure 5) and cleaned the place and put the stalks underwater. So the pests had nothing to eat, and they all went away…But now there is always rice there” (KE10).
Figure 5: Mounds of rice stalk compost for vegetable plantation
 
Now, this is also changing. An interviewee told me “if you don’t apply pesticides the crop will also be attacked because there is always rice” (KE10). For those who are still growing rice once a year, it is still difficult to not be affected. One interviewee said “in the rice field, there are several rice patches, even if I like to do the traditional way, my neighbor is not following [it]. It affects [me] because they introduce insect pests and many [other] things not only affecting their own product but also mine. That is the difficult situation I have observed” (KE9).
 
According to some famer interviewees, what affects rice production most is the apple snails. Previous research also found that farmers perceived a 41 to50 percent yield loss due to the pest (Joshi et al., 2001). In contrast to the use of pesticides, the traditional control over the pest is handpicking[7]. A newer attempt was made by introducing ducks into the rice terraces. In her interview, Febe Bummael[8] said, “it is useful because they really feed on the snails.” As the first in Hungduan to use ducks to control the apple snails, she mentioned the problem of not having enough ducks but said “they [the government staff] are trying to reach some suppliers to give the ducks to some farmers.”
 
Another pest mentioned by multiple interviewees was rats. Accordingly, what was done traditionally was that “we [used to] clean the stone walls of the rice field because the rats hide there. We cleaned the stone walls and put grass in the holes so that the rats would not be able to come out. And we cleaned the edges of the rice field. I learned that from my mother” (KE10). But now only a few government agricultural technicians are advising to clean the fields, instead of applying rodenticides after planting (Catudan et al., 2003)[9].
 
Like the rice grown with fertilizers, most interviewees thought that the rice grown with pesticides was not safe or healthy. However, one interviewee believed that “they spray but it is ok because it [the pesticide] is only in the soil” (BW2). In fact, if not more than the concern of the damage to rice safety, farmers worry equally about the effects of pesticides on other organisms in the rice terraces, such as some shellfish and mudfish they used to catch for food. It was believed that the farmers “started spraying and all the diversity[10] in the rice field is lost” (KE8).
 
Mechanization  
 
As mentioned in the beginning of this section, all farm work in Ifugao was traditionally done by hand. Only some wood or metal tools were used for heavy work. For tilling the field, farmers used their feet and wood paddle spades. For harvesting, they used the transverse rice harvesting knives (Figure 6).
Figure 6: Harvesting rice with the Ifugao harvesting knife
 
During the first month of the research, it was harvest season in Hungduan and I experienced harvesting rice by hand[11]. As I observed, a skilled farmer could easily harvest one panicle per second which took me twice the time after I learned the work. Another difficulty was that when there is a lot of tall rice stalks and panicle in front of you, being able to quickly grab the panicle without the stalk requires skilled eyes. Walking in the muddy soil with buried stalks was not easy as well but the warm soil was satisfying.
Figure 7: Bundling newly harvested rice panicles
 
That evening, after harvesting the rice, we followed the traditional way of pounding it[12]. It appeared to be easy but pounding with the wood pestle did not take long to wear me out[13]. The real difficulty for me was the winnowing[14] (Figure 8). It usually takes two times of pounding and winnowing until the rice is ready to be cooked. With me slowing down the process and throwing out rice with the husks, this frequent chore took us more than 25 minutes for about 1 kilogram of rice, a meal enough for a typical Ifugao family of five people. Were I an Ifugao farmer, I would not have been able to feed myself. But chickens would love my work as they would feast over the rice I would “generously” throw out.
Figure 8: Winnowing pounded rice next to a stone mortar
 
The experiences I described above are under change as well. For farmers who grow two seasons of rice, harvesting panicle by panicle is impractical if they want to have enough time to prepare for the next season. Their way of harvesting, despite still being done manually, is by cutting at the plant stem with all tillers from the same seedling like many other Asian farmers. Diesel powered thresheres are used to thresh (Figure 9) and the grains are then carried in plastic rice sacks for milling by machine.
Figure 9: Using a mechanical thresher in the rice terraces
 
One clear advantage of using machines to thresh and to mill is that it saves labor. Many interviewed Ifugaos told me that in areas near town, farmers have their rice milled by machines to save time in order to do other activities that generate income. Yet some interpreted this as making “people lazy to pound.” Moreover, compared with the manually-pounded rice that can “sustain longer,” the milled rice is believed to be “so easily consumed.”[15] Some also think that the milled rice is not as tasty because “there are chemicals in the milled rice” (RF11). Based on my observation of pounded red rice, the bran layer was mostly kept, while for milled rice, the layer was removed (Figure 10).
Figure 10: Contrasting milled rice (left) and pounded rice with more bran (right)
 
Another major move toward mechanization in the rice field is the hand-pulled tiller[16]. Many farmers agreed that the machines would make their work easier compared to the manual way. One interviewee said, “if we cannot allow that, you go one [step] by one [step] and stepping [on] one [piece of] those [hard soil], how many days would you work on that” (GW3). For some, the motivation to mechanize came from foreign countries. After visiting Japan, one of the interviewees said Japanese farmers “use machines so 30 minutes of work is wide [efficient]. And here, even if you work for a week or a month [manually], maybe it is just a little [area]” (GW3). The problem according to another interview was that “we don’t have that [machine] here. We sometimes invite researchers from other countries to introduce those technologies”[17] (GW1).
 
However, Ifugao farmers also see some limitations in using machines for their work. The first is “the terraces are small. It [all big machines] cannot be brought across the river” (KE1). The second is “if you use your hand or feet to clean, the soil is firm. And if you use the machine the soil is soft. And when you plant and look at the panicles, you will see the difference” (RF4). However, these limitations may be solved with some technical improvements, such as making the machine more portable and adjustable. The greater difficulty for Ifugao farmers in using machines is rooted in their culture. One interviewee pointed out, “we don’t have big machines here. But that is precisely the reason we value our terrace even [if] it is small” (GW2). And one farmer said, “if you go to the field and clean the area using your hand, you can feel it even though it is hard… Deep in your own heart, you really feel and love the work you do. And when you do that, in your mind this is the way our forefathers had before. And you must do it also. And it reminds you [of] way back… Just doing it the easy way, you can not feel” (RF4).
 
Community calendar
 
Another effect of the change in rice variety is in the timing of agricultural activities. When farmers grew the tinawon rice uniformly, the flow of the work formed a relatively fixed cycle. This synchronized agricultural cycle has facilitated Ifugaos in coordinating labor for labor-intensive work, such as weeding, tilling, and harvesting[18], and other social or religious activities.
Figure 11: Rice plants in non-uniform growth stages
 
However, as some farmers are growing new rice varieties that have shorter growth spans, this unified agricultural cycle is shifting or breaking apart (Figure 11). Previous research found that the present calendar[19] shifted one or two months later from the earlier one and some farmers began growing two crops per year (Nitapa and Ognayon, 2016). [20] This shift towards later time was also experienced by most interviewees. One farmer said, “time changes and people change. By February you will see people planting now. But then 6 to 8 years ago, it should be January when all rice was planted” (RF8). At the same time, “there is already a trend that they do not follow anymore the rice farming calendar” (GW6). Some farmers are now growing two seasons of rice.
 
This disturbed calendar in Ifugao may have further social consequences. A farmer said “I prefer the old time because there was unity. Everyone would follow the same rule. When the community needs something, everyone cooperate[d]. Based on my observation, it seems that each one is going their own way now. So the answer is that I would rather go on the old way. Before we talked but now we are on [an] individual direction. In the old days, during critical times, people act[ed] collectively, just like growing rice” (KE9).
 
Influence on religion
 
The influence of the change of rice variety extends to the Ifugao traditional religion (more details of changes in religion are discussed in the chapter of religion). As the Ifugao God Liddum instructed in the legend of the tinawon rice, Ifugaos have been observing rituals in the process of rice production. However, with the new rice varieties, one farmer told me that they “can’t do the rituals[21]. There is a big difference with these new varieties introduced” (KE9). Yet, some of those who are growing the new varieties argued that the new varieties “will not totally affect the rituals, just 30% or 40%” (GW8) because farmers can still do the rituals during the time they sow the seed and transplant the seedlings. While that is true, the rituals in this sense lost their meanings: as one cultural expert explained, “it is very explicit in the rituals that the people of the Skyworld gave this tinawon rice to the Ifugaos and told them this is the tinawon and you [have] to perform all these rituals for you to be able to have a good harvest” (KE8).
 
Preservation of the tinawon rice
 
Perhaps whenever society changes for practical reasons, sentiments from the past memories would be stirred up, and the changes would become very controversial. In this case, many Ifugaos, not only farmers, still feel nostalgically attached to their traditional tinawon. One interviewee explained that he doesn’t want “the old variety to [become] extinct because there is a unique taste. Because if you loose it, where can you get these varieties?” (BW12). There were also complaints against authorities that “they just say we feed how many thousands Filipino every year with our high yielding rice varieties. They are destroying the Ifugaos. It is actually cultural genocide, but nobody is looking at it as we do” (KE8).
 
Efforts are being made to keep and revive the tinawon variety. A farmers’ cooperative was established. They encourage farmers to plant the tinawon and sell to the cooperative at a premium price. The cooperative advocates that “[the production] is not enough [for family consumption] so you’d better sell a part and then you can buy some rice that is lower priced. If you sell at premium price, you can [then] buy [commercial] rice at 40 or 50 pesos[22] (U.S. $1) [per kilogram] at the market” (BW3). The cooperative also made it clear that they “are not encouraging them [the farmers] to sell all the rice. So it is up to them. But some farmers will sell more and some sell less” (BW3). While the cooperative hopes that as farmers start growing tinawon again, they will return to the traditional organic way and stop using chemicals that damage destroy the environment, they also advocate some research on the productivity and pest control of the tinawon rice.
 

1.1.3        Swidden farming and forests

 
Other than the rice terraces, traditionally Ifugaos also produce food in the unirrigated swidden farms on the slope of the mountains (Conklin, 1961). During the fallow season in the rice terrace, they would plant crops in swiddens. The importance of this farming system may be best shown by Conklin’s research findings that the average area ratio of the swidden fields to rice terrace was about 1:4 (Conklin, 1980: 9). Unlike the rice terraces, the swidden fields on slopes can be easily created and extended. In his book, Conklin (1980: 25) wrote that the “swiddens furnish the bulk of the food consumed by most families except the wealthy and they provide insurance against times of economic stress”. The most widely produced crop in the swidden had been the sweet potato (Brosius, 1988). It was estimated that on average, up to 360 kilograms of sweet potatoes were consumed annually per person (Guthrie, 1964: 9). The importance of the swidden agriculture may also be represented by this crop that it is the main staple crop for much of the year with the young tips used as vegetables and stems used for pig foods.
Figure 12: A small swidden field
 
However, swidden fields can rarely be seen now in Ifugao (Figure 12). Farmers are no longer going to the mountains to cultivate. Just as the importance of swidden farming can be represented by the wide and popular use of sweet potato, the decline of such farming system may also be reflected as the crop disappears from the Ifugao table.
 
One interviewee told me “when we were young, we ate local products like sweet potato, but now sweet potato is gone” (RF11). When asked for the reason, one interviewee explained that “there is now a pest destroying those crops” (BW9). Another reason has to do with the perception of this crop. One interviewee compared the past to now and said “it is better now because we can buy rice because in the past all people eat sweet potato” (BW7). Therefore, although some swidden agriculture can still be seen in rural villages in Ifugao, the main crops in them are ginger and winged bean for sale rather home consumption (Figure 13).
Figure 13: Winged beans ready for export to cities and abroad
 
In addition to swidden fields and the rice terraces, Ifugaos also used to go to the forest to hunt and collect wild vegetables, fruits and other material such as wood and grass for construction, fuel, and clothes (Balangcod, 2010; Balangcod and Balangcod, 2011; Klock, 1995). But very few Ifugaos now go to the forest. The fundamental reason may be expressed by one interviewee, as he said, “one thing that is different is that now there are many jobs, but in the past, we just focused on the rice field and farming on the mountain slopes for sweet potatoes” (RF6).
 

1.2        Diet

Walking into a market in Ifugao, one who is familiar with Asian food may find nothing too surprising or new. However, the existence of a market itself, perhaps, for many traditional Ifugaos is already new. As one interviewee explained “the rice terrace was a marketplace [where Ifugaos produced rice, harvested vegetables, and collect shellfish]” (BH3).
 
While rice is still the major staple for Ifugao, the variety of foods people eat has changed. In his research in the 60s, Conklin (1980: 10) summarized the three major starch staples as rice, sweet potatoes, and taro, making up 40%, 38% and 4% of the weight of the diet. As mentioned above, the importance of sweet potatoes has decreased and the only time I ate taro in Ifugao was after I bought some from the market. Rice on the other hand, is gaining a greater portion (Figure 14).
Figure 14: Rice in lunch boxes prepared by an Ifugao mother for the children
 
For side dishes, those on the top of the list were shellfish, chicken, and pork as meat and taro tops, leafy greens, and beans as vegetables. One interviewee mentioned an experience when he was asked by a researcher to “to pick everything that can be cooked”, and the researcher “asked if we are eating them every day, and we said no”[23] (GW3). Other than meat like chiken and pork, Ifugaos also used to eat insects as a protein source. One example is the flying termites. In his diary on May 21, 1969, Mark Conklin, one of the sons of Harold Conklin, wrote “the people wait near the nest openings with water in their large laundry basins and a kerosene lamp sitting in the middle of the basin…then you take large handfuls of termites and put them in a flat pan and toast them over a fire” (Conklin, 2003). In Guthrie’s account, he described the taste as “a strong resemblance to Rice Krispies and a bacon taste” (Guthrie, 1964:12). Today, during my research period, eating flying termites was unseen and unheard of.
 
Except for these changes that the “shells and fish [from the rice fields] are gone” (BW3) and wild vegetables and insects are no longer eaten, the general variety of other ingredients has not changed but the amount shifted greatly towards the meat of chicken and fish. Many interviewees shared the same observation that “at present, the carnivore people are eating more meat” (KE10) while “in the past, it was really rare that you eat meat every week” (GW3). While parents are pleased that their children have a bigger portion of fish than they had when they were little, some elder people complained that their young grandchildren “always prefer the meat. [And] unless there is no meat at all, they [will] eat vegetables, but only a little” (KE10).
 
Other than this shift in food ingredients, interviewees mentioned a change in the processing and cooking as well. While in the past, Ifugaos “would just cook the rice and boil some vegetables and put some salt and mix” (KE3) (Figure 15), there is now a heavier use of sugar and oil[24], which used to be expensive and limited only to some areas. Perhaps the greatest change in diet is the rise of processed foods or frozen foods. Interviews summarized that “the diet before was more organic” (GW1) and now there are “frozen foods and processed foods and sometimes they don’t buy the organic ones” (GW1).
Figure 15: A traditional Ifugao meal with boiled pork, rice and winged beans served in a bowl made of bamboo trunk
 
Many interviewees expressed concerns over the processed and frozen food. One of them said “I don’t know what is being mixed in those canned goods. Like frozen foods, I don’t know how sure that it is really safe” (KE10). Comparing the diets in the past and that of the present, an interviewee told me that “people are having a luxurious life, eating good food, but nowadays there are many diseases and illness, like high blood pressure, strokes and cancers. In the past, we did not hear anyone with those diseases but all of us lived a simple life and lived longer. As I observed, people grow fast but die fast too[25]” (RF6). One explanation of this is the changed preference as told by an interviewee that “people are going outside and they taste the food and found it was very nice because they could not taste that here. So it seems that they already adapted [to] that. So even if that is not part of their ordinary food, they will buy because they want the flavor and maybe that is the likes of today” (GW5). An Ifugao grandparent also explained what happened in her family, “the children are already used to frozen foods and canned food [that are] easy to cook because their parents have no time to prepare to cook for them because of the work [outside of the household]” (KE10).
 
Another thing to my surprise was Ifugaos’ love for coffee[26] and bread. At a typical reception to an Ifugao family, visitors are usually served with coffee. I was soon told that despite no mention in the articles and books I read about Ifugao before I arrived, coffee is not a new drink. Elderly people aged over 80 said their parents had drunk coffee and it continues to be a daily drink for them. While the elder ones usually simply mix some brown sugar in their instant black coffee, young generations seem to prefer the 3-in-1 instant coffee[27] and chocolate drink[28],. While coffee has been on many Ifugao tables for a long time, bread became affordable relatively recently. While in the past, Ifugaos living outside the towns needed to walk for many hours to buy a loaf, they can now have bread “anytime. You just buy when you want to eat” (RF11). In an afternoon in an Ifugao family, I saw a young boy eat 6 pieces of white bread with peanut butter and instant coffee.
 
In sum, most of the Ifugaos today have different diets than previous generations. What Guthrie wrote in 1964 can be seen as true now. He wrote:
 
“We can see that a balanced diet is possible for the Ifugaos. But their health is threatened not only by new diseases but also by new food preferences and by population pressures. This area now supports as many as four hundred people per square mile. Many of the items of their diet will be dropped as outside influences are felt. As rice is more highly polished and as such sources of protein as bugs and bats are rejected they will become more civilized and less well fed.”
 

1.3        Food self-sufficiency

In the past, the food market was around Ifugaos’ homes, terraces, swidden farms, and forests. From there, they got rice, sweet potatoes, shellfish, snails[29], taro, vegetables, and their meats like pork, chicken, and beef. This is no longer the case. As discussed earlier, the techniques of farming rice have changed. According to some interviewees, shellfish and native snails disappeared from the terraces with the use of chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides[30]. The sweet potato is not grown anymore in swidden fields and people’s side dishes depend increasingly on processed food. No matter how important agriculture is to Ifugao in the past and now, what is clear is that Ifugaos are no longer self-sufficient in food, as both the amount and the kinds of food consumed can no longer be produced locally.
 
Elderly people remember the past when they had enough rice from local production. One elderly farmer said, “I still remember when I was young, the rice was enough…I still remember we were selling rice to the adjacent municipality, but we had to carry [it]… we sold [it] to buy a can of sardines or soap. And if there [was] enough, I could buy a pen” (RF5). But today, even after some Ifugaos switched to the new high-yielding rice varieties and two seasons of rice production in a year, almost all interviewees told me the rice production was not enough. They would have rice for some months after harvest but generally before they harvest again they would need to buy rice produced with synthetic inputs in the inorganic way in the lowlands in the Philippines or from abroad, as was also found out by earlier research (Gomez JR, 2013). And in terms of the meat, although much pork and chicken are still produced locally, “the feed is still from outside” (KE9), and fish like sardines come in a can or frozen. Therefore, despite saying that “I will farm as long as I am strong, and I don’t like the idea of buying food” (KE9), even the elder generation of Ifugao farmers admitted that local production is no longer sufficient for the demands.
 
Population growth and dietary change are the reasons agreed upon by most interviewees for changes in agricultural practices. In order to produce enough rice, farmers are facing struggles of giving up their traditional agricultural practices, or even their career as farmers. With the loss of self-sufficiency, the original agriculture-oriented society began its journey of dramatic social changes. One example of such change is on the traditional religion.
 

[1] These new rice varieties Ifugao farmers are growing are mostly bred by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
[2] In Conklin’s research, the average productivity amounted to 2,427 kilograms per hectare (Conklin, 1980).
[3] According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (2016), the population in Ifugao has been constantly increasing since the 1990’s (with a population growth rate at 1.6% in 1995 to a 1.8% in 2007). In 2010 there were 4.8 people per household on average.
[4] This government worker also farms.
[5] Weeding is oftern refered to as cleaning the field.
[6] One claim was that the snails were brought in as food. But it was criticized by Marlon Martin, a culture expert.
[7] Handpicking pest insects and removing weeds are jobs many non-farmer interviewees did when they were younger.
[8] Febe B. Bummael is a trainee of the IFSMTP who researched rice-duck integration to control the golden apple snails (Pomacea canaliculata).
[9] It was also found out that more educated farmers and those who had alternative income sources were more likely to use rodenticides (Catudan et al., 2003).
[10] Detailed of this alternative food source from the rice field is discussed in the later section on diet.
[11] To use the harvesting knife, loop the string of the knife around the wrist and the hold the handle with either only the little finger or the little and ring finger below the blade. To start harvesting, hold one or two rice panicles at below the flag leaf by the thumb and index finger and use the middle finger or together with the ring finger to cut. Then transfer the panicle to the other hand and before placing them aside, remove all the flag leaves when there is a full handful. A bundle (usually 1.5 to 2 kilograms) is then tied (Figure 77) when there is enough. It is not very difficult to learn the job but getting skillful takes some practice.
[12] A handful of pre-dried un-husked rice grains was hand threshed and put in a wood mortar about 50 centimeters tall and 30 centimeters in diameter with a hole around 25 centimeters in it. A wood pestle about 1.6 meters is used to pound the rice.
[13] The wood pestle was about one and a half meter long and weithed two kilograms. It was also not easy to hit the rice at the center of the mortar hole; if done otherwise, some rice would spill out from the mortar.
[14] After putting a handful of the rice mixture in a square basket, one winnows the mixture by throwing it in the air and catching the rice without the husks. Then the mixture is put back to the mortar for pounding again.
[15] It is believed by many interviewees that the tinawon rice or even new varieties which are grown more on human labor would be more filling when eaten.
[16] No farmer interviewee mentioned that they use this machine but in Hungduan, Kiangan and Mayoyao about 1 in every 10 farmers observed working in the field were using or had one hand-pulled tiller.
[17] In May 2015, two professors from Japan visited the Philippines and shared their ideas for using agricultural machines in the terraces. In their report, one of them claimed “mechanization can solve the insufficiency of workforce issue” (PhilRice Release, 2015).
[18] According to a farmer interviewee, for a 400 square meters rice terrace, it takes 14 person days to weed the terrace and around the walls, 5 person days to till the field, and 14 person days to harvest.
[19] The new and old agricultural calendar is attached as appendix D.
[20] Janice Mercy O. Nitapa was a trainee of the Ifugao Satoyama Meister Training Program from Ifugao State University. She and her mentor Generose S. Ognayon researched Factors of Change in the Rice Production Calendar of Selected Ifugao GIAHS Sites.
[21] More on rice rituals is discussed in the chapter on religion.
[22] In 2016, the exchange rate of U.S. dollar to Philippine peso is about 1:50. The equivalent amount in U.S. dollar will be given when necessary.
[23] But the interviewee said young people still could recognize the edible materials from the terrace.
[24] Ifugaos used to plant sugar canes and make sugar from the plants. But the sugar and oil being used today are imported from elsewhere.
[25] In Batad, I saw an Ifugao farmer, alledgedly at the age of 94, bundling dried grasses for roof.
[26] Coffee has been grown in Ifugao for a long time but it was only until recent years Ifugaos tried to start seriously cultivating coffee for business.
[27] 3-in-1 is a kind of instant coffee drink popular in Asian countries. In Ifugao, this coffee product comes in small 20 grams plastic aluminum packages.
[28] I still remember seeing a young boy pouring Milo chocolate powder over a plate of rice, adding some seasoning to his meal of carbohydrates.
[29] Allegedly young Ifugaos today are shamed of eating snails.
[30] One interviewee thinks this is also a result of climate change.