Understanding the Dynamic Interactions and Environmental Problems in the Muyong-Payoh System of Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines through Participatory Rural Approaches
Keywords: agroforestry, indigenous system, tropical secondary forest, rice terraces
AbstractThe muyong-payoh system is a unique agroforesty management strategy ingrained in the culture of the Ifugao people. It also refers to a forest conservation strategy, a watershed rehabilitation technique, a farming system, or an assisted natural regeneration strategy. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) activities were conducted in Barangays Amganad and Poitan in Banaue, Ifugao province to gather information about the dynamic interactions and environmental problems in the muyong-payoh system. The muyong provideslumber for construction, wood for the carving industry, firewood for domestic use, wildlife and fruits for food, medicinal plants, and water for irrigation and for domestic consumption. The payohs are where rice is cultivated. The continuous cutting in the in the muyongforest decreased tree density that induced soil erosion and reduced the quantity and quality of water from the headwaters that is used as irrigation water for the payoh. This also led to decreased biodiversity in the muyong. On the other hand, the introduction of exotic tree species in the muyong were observed to cause changes in the water balance in the muyong,. The key problems in the payoh were reduced rice yield, wide occurrence of pests and diseases, soil erosion, collapsed walls of rice terraces, and poor irrigation. To mitigate theproblems in the payohand to sustain the muyong forest, policymakers should consider policy guidelines on the introduction of exotic tree and faunal species as these contribute to decreasingbiodiversity in the area and create an imbalance in the muyong-payoh ecosystem. A reforestation program using indigenous speciesshould be carefully planned, too. Amganad and Poitan farmers agreed on rehabilitation and reforestation of their muyongas a major solution. They suggested capacity building as the best solutionfor problems in the payoh. Seminars on integrated pest management, repair of terrace walls, and use of tractors as a substitute for human labor were other possible solutions expressed by the farmers. PRA serves as avenue for community members to express their local ecological knowledge on environmental degradation in muyong-payoh systems and propose viable solutions to address these problems.