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1. An increase in the number of work animals (carabaos
and cattle) will bring into cultivation much of the rice land
now lying idle. In several districts of the Philippines there
have been large importations of draft animals from Asia, and
a correspondingly increased area devoted to rice production ;
but on account of rinderpest and other diseases existing in
Asia this importation is extremely dangerous. Several out-
breaks of rinderpest arid other diseases have been directly
traced to infection introduced in this manner. Hence the
importation of foreign cattle and carabaos has been carefully
guarded, and the government has undertaken a campaign of
quarantine and close supervision of the draft animals coming
into the Philippines, with the hope that by this means rinder-
pest will be held in control and no further infection from. out-
side will be allowed to complicate the domestic situation. The
average number of carabaos imported annually is about 1500,
and the average number of cattle about 10,000. Most of the
latter are killed for meat. From 1903 to 1917 the number
of carabaos in the Islands had increased from 640,000 to more
than 1,200,000, and the number of cattle from 130,000 to
more than 500,000. This indicates that the attempt to guard
the natural increase of work animals and of the imported
animals has been successful.

An indirect accession to the work animals available for rice
fields is the result of the expansion of motor transportation,
and the introduction of small farm tractors on dry cultures.
Heavy machinery cannot be used on the soft rice paddies, but
the use of tractors on sugar and other dry lands liberates a
considerable number of animals for the cultivation of rice.
The substitution of the motor truck for the carabao and bull
cart is also a help.

2. A further increase in the yield of rice would be possible /
if the profit could be increased by a reduction in the cost of
the production.


The fall in rice imports in 1U13 was chiefly due to the
large domestic crop of 1912-1913. This increase in the domes-
tic crop resulted from the high prices of that period, and is
a measure of the effect of good profits. The large areas
planted with rice in 1917 and 1918 were the results of high
prices for rice during war times. Indeed, from Chart III it
is evident that there is a close connection between the price
of rice and the production. Naturally, when the price is high
and profits are good, a larger area is planted and more care
is taken than when the price is normal and there is little
margin of profit.

But cannot greater profits be made from rice culture with-
out abnormally increasing the price of rice ? Cannot the cost
of production be lowered ?

a. The largest reduction can probably be made in the har-
vesting. The share system, by which the harvesters receive
as much as half the crop, and the resultant ill effect on the
workers, has been explained. By the substitution of a wage
system these evil effects would be done away with, and greater
profit would accrue to the grower. It is probable that further
reduction in the cost of harvesting made by the use
of improved implements. It is possible that better hand imple-
ments than the present short knives can be devised. In the
United States the cradle is used to advantage. This cuts
quickly, and leaves the grain in a condition to cure rapidly
and evenly, and to be easily handled; but it takes a con-
siderable amount of strength to use the cradle. 1 Harvesters
intended for the temperate regions have not been successful
in the Philippines. For instance, some machines imported
from America were found impracticable because they were
geared to work at the rate of two and a fourth miles an
hour (which is the rate at which horses can pull the machine),
and would not operate when going at a rate of one and a
fourth miles an hour (which is the speed of a carabao). Com-
bined harvesters would also be unsatisfactory, on account of

1 The Louisiana Planter (August 6, 1910), p. 87.


the smallness of the field and the tendency of heavy machines
to become stuck in the mud. If machinery is to be used in
the Philippines, the kind must be determined by experience
in the local needs.

b. If small producers would discontinue their practice of
selling nearly all their rice at the harvest, only to buy it
back later at a much higher price, much loss would be avoided.

Photo by Bureau of Agriculture

3. Even with the present number of animals and the pres-
ent area of cultivated land, the amount of rice produced in
the Philippines can be greatly increased by better methods
of cultivation.

a. For the inefficient plow and harrow now used there can
be substituted plows, harrows, and other implements which
are much more effective in digging into the soil, turning it
over, and pulverizing it. It must not be thought, however,
that the agricultural machinery used in other countries can
be used equally well in the Philippines. Such machinery
is an outgrowth of need and experience. Nearly all of it
originated in America, where the problem has been to culti-
vate large fields with little labor, and where horses are used.
The problem in the Philippines is to obtain machinery suitable
for land soaked with water, machinery which can be drawn by


carabaos or cattle, and which will be effective in small fields
where the furrows are short and the animals have to turn
many times. 1 Plows adapted to American fields cannot be
used in the Philippines because they do not meet these con-
ditions. Drills for planting the seed have not been successful
because they are not intended to work in soil so poorly plowed
as the Philippine fields. On the other hand, plows which have
been especially designed for Philippine use have succeeded in
a number of districts. The matter of agricultural implements
can therefore best be met in the Philippines either by adapt-
ing the implements and machinery of other countries to the
local requirements, or by devising something new. The oppor-
tunity is large.

b. Another important consideration is that of selecting seed.
There are many hundred varieties of rice in the Philippines,
most of which are of the lowland. Some of these yield twice
as much as others. In most communities farmers have come
to recognize the kinds which give best results in their partic-
ular soil, but in many localities there is still but little atten-
tion given to the selection of the variety to be planted. It has
been estimated by the Bureau of Agriculture that out of 1242
well-known varieties but fifty are capable of a yield and qual-
ity commercially profitable. While there is often selection in
the variety of rice raised, in but few instances is there any
selection of the seed. Even if seed 'be put aside for the
next planting, there is no attempt to pick out the best heads.
Farmers usually take what palay is left over in their homes,

1 The difficulty of the short furrow results from the building of dikes with
straight sides. This may possibly be overcome by making rounded dikes, over
which the machine can be dragged. Plows, harrows, and drills can be pulled
by carabaos or cattle ; binders and such machinery, which only work satis-
factorily at a good rate of speed, may be propelled by gasoline. All heavy
machinery, however, can only be used on firm ground.
Most rice soils in the Philippines are such that during the planting or
harvesting they are too soft to sustain machinery. The improved plow is
thus far the only agricultural implement which has been successfully adapted
to small farming in the Philippines. The single-handle steel-beam breaking
plow is a success.

Courtesy of Keller and Bishop

From Brigham's " Commercial Geography

From Bri Cham's "Commercial Geography"



or they buy seed of any character. By the cultivation of the
best varieties, and the careful selection of seed from these, the
yield of rice in the Philippines could be increased several fold.
c. Perhaps the most important factor in increasing the yield
of rice is efficient irrigation. Without consideration of the addi-
tional crops that could be raised by irrigation, which would
at least double the total yield from the land under cultiva-
tion, the benefit to be derived from a constant supply of water
demands consideration. The prime need of rice during its
growth is water. Conditions in the Philippines are such that
at the present time commercial (artificial) manures cannot
be profitably applied to rice lands ; but a constant supply of
water assures a good crop on almost any type of soil which
has an underlying impervious layer of clay. 1 Rice lands are
usually dependent on the rains, and much rice is lost here and
there throughout the Archipelago in all years ; during seasons
of widespread drought, such as occurred in 1911-1912, there
is a general failure of the crop. These losses could be stopped
by storage and irrigation. The methods by which the water
may be obtained and distributed on the land will be taken
up under a more general heading, but the question of organ-
ization for the construction of irrigation systems may receive
a word of attention here. In certain regions local capitalists
have built irrigation systems on a small scale. In a few dis-
tricts such systems have been constructed by cooperation ;
that is, the fields which receive water belong to those who have
built the system. Here and there are found rather extensive
irrigation works, built years ago by the owners of large estates,
particularly on the friar lands. Their efficiency has been in
many cases reduced or destroyed through neglect or damage.
But neither capitalistic, nor communal, nor private enterprise
is able to build the irrigation works which certain regions
need, and which topography warrants. Such projects must
be undertaken by the government, since they require careful
study for a long period of years, and the expenditure of

1 Bulletin 22, Bureau of Agriculture, Manila.


large sums of money for construction and maintenance. It is
estimated that there are in the Philippines 1,365,000 hec-
tares of rice land under cultivation. Of these about 50,000
hectares are irrigated by old systems. Preliminary surveys
have proved the existence of 485,000 hectares of land capable
of irrigation. 1 Much of it is rice land.

How does irrigation increase the yield of rice ? Its effect
in overcoming drought and in allowing the planting of more
than one crop annually is self-evident. A less evident effect
is that from the control of water. For instance, rice should
be transplanted just before the nodes form ; never afterwards,
because the yield is diminished. Philippine agriculturists do
not thoroughly understand this, and usually transplant after
the nodes are formed. However, they are often forced to delay
transplanting because the rains do not fall in time to prepare
the soil. If an irrigation system exists, the water can be
turned on the fields when desired, and thus the time of plant-
ing can be controlled. This control is also important in the
choking of weeds and the withdrawal of water when the
grain is ripening.

The average annual production of rice throughout the Phil-
ippines is probably less than twenty-five cavans a hectare.
The average production of rice in exceptionally favorable
years, when sufficient rain falls at the required time, is from
twenty-five to forty cavans a hectare. Under the present sys-
tem of tillage, planting, and seed selection this difference may
be said to result from irrigation. 2 Irrigated lands properly
cultivated and planted with selected seed produce from fifty/
to seventy -five cavans a hectare. It may be stated, therefore,
that the cultivated rice lands in the Philippines should, with
irrigation, better cultivation, and seed selection, yield from
three to four times the quantity of rice now produced. With an
increase in the number of work animals and with a lower

1 Philippine Agricultural Review, Vol. II, No. 11.

2 These estimates are given after a careful review of all data available,
including some eight hundred estimates from as many municipalities.


cost of production many of the rice fields which at present
are lying idle would be brought under cultivation. With
better means of production at least four times the present
yield could be obtained. Hence it is possible for the existing
fields to yield more than a sufficient quantity of rice for the
needs of the Islands.

4. The changes on which this increased production depends
can be brought about but slowly, and for quick returns another
method of meeting the situation has presented itself. This is

From Brigham's " Commercial Geography "

to bring large tracts of virgin land into extensive cultivation.
Such an undertaking can be carried out only by the govern-
ment or by large corporations. Throughout the Orient rice is
raised in small diked fields, just as in the Philippines, except
that in many localities hoes, spades, and mattocks are used
instead of the plow, and that in most countries careful culti-
vation of the soil and selection of seed are carried on, making
the yield by the hectare much larger.

In the United States, however, an entirely different method
is followed. Rice was introduced into the American colonies
in 1790, by accident. It gradually became the product of
small fields along the southeastern seacoast. Modern machin-
ery is now used in preparing the soil, and drills are used in


planting. The crop is cut with sickles, but is threshed and
cleaned by machines.

In 1884 farmers were settling the great southern prairie
of Louisiana and Texas along the Gulf of Mexico. They found
that rice grew well, and they began immediately to adapt large
agricultural machinery, such as is used in growing wheat.
Difficulties were met and overcome. On the whole, the exten-
sive operations have been most successful, and larger areas are
being given to rice every year. Large fields and more or less
extensive irrigation systems are used, the water being pumped
from rivers or wells. Heavy modern machinery is used in
preparing the soil and in planting. From the time the rice is
a few inches high until the harvest, the field is kept under
water. Just before the rice is mature, the water is drawn off,
so that by the time the crop is ready for harvest the ground
is hard enough to bear the weight of the self-binders, which
automatically cut and bundle the grain. Large threshers and
mills prepare the rice for market. The product thus obtained
is of high quality. 1

The northern part of the Cagayan Valley is a large plain,
with soil well suited to rice. In the northeastern part of the
Central Plain of Luzon there are large tracts of virgin rice
land. In such regions as the Gandara Valley of Samar, and
the Agusan and Cotabato valleys of Mindanao, there are
thousands of hectares of new rice land. It would seem that
with modern methods all these were capable of producing vast
quantities of rice at a low cost. However, the question of
available labor and of conditions of weather and soil must
be considered. The problem of bringing laborers into these
regions, of founding settlements, and of importing food and
other necessities is difficult. In the "bonanza" rice region of
the United States planting is done at the beginning of the
rainy season, and the harvest takes place during the dry season.

1 The World To-day (January, 1910), p. 99 ; Farmers' Bulletin 417, United
States Department of Agriculture. The prices noted are less than the current
prices for rice in the Philippines.


Frost and snow prevent the growth of weeds until the fields
are again ready for planting. That is, the following conditions
prevail : (1) machinery can be used on the land to prepare
it for planting ; (2) a variety of rice is planted which matures
during the ensuing dry season ; (3) irrigation is practiced,
which insures the control of water on the fields during the
growing season, arid the withdrawal of water when the grain
is ripening ; (4) this control of water and the absence of un-
seasonable rains insure ground fjrm enough to support the
machinery used in reaping ; (5) frost and snow then prevent
the growth of weeds until the next planting season.

These conditions are not applicable to the Philippines except
in the western parts of the Islands, where a distinct dry season
prevails. The eastern parts have no dry season. The central
parts have a short but uncertain dry season. 1 In the Central
Plain of Luzon a definite dry season exists, but the varieties of
rice which are planted mature in less time than the duration
of the rainy season ; hence it would be necessary to plant early
on dry soil with large machinery and reap by hand on soggy
land, or to plant by hand within the rainy season and reap by
heavy machinery during the dry season. Therefore it is not
probable that large cultivation with machinery will succeed
in the Philippines except on the limited soils which quickly
become compact after a hard rain.

However, it may be possible to develop or find a variety of
rice which will mature in a longer period of time than those
varieties now ordinarily planted. If so, the plan would be
feasible. But losses would have to be anticipated, since rains
may occur during the dry season ; these would lodge the grain
and soften the ground, so that machinery could not be used
for reaping. It might be possible, also, to develop or find a
quickly maturing variety of rice which could- be planted at
the beginning of the dry season and reaped before the end of
the season. In this case, however, unseasonable rains might

1 See the discussion of Philippine climate in Miller and Policy's " Inter-
mediate Geography."


again interfere ; furthermore, plans would have to be perfected
for cultivating the fields during the rainy season, to prevent
the growth of heavy weeds, which would be expensive to
remove. Irrigation would, of course, be necessary.

The feasibility of extensive wet cultivation in the Philip-
pines is therefore very doubtful.

A more immediate and feasible way of increasing cultivated
rice areas is by the settlement of virgin rice lands with colo-
nists from the densely populated regions of the Islands. The
provisions of the homestead law, the building of roads and
railroads, and the improvement of water transportation, have
opened up large areas of new land suitable for rice. The
settlement of several rice regions, such as those of Nueva
Ecija by Ilocanos, has been accomplished independently of
government aid, and has brought several thousand hectares
of land into cultivation. The government has undertaken the
establishment of rice colonies also, by furnishing not only
transportation to the new lands, but carabaos, implements,
and funds. The colonists repay these advances as soon as
their farms are on a paying basis. The six rice colonies of
Cotabato were recruited from Cebu. They brought a thou-
sand hectares of land into cultivation and were on a paying
basis within two years after their formation. The success of
these colonies augurs well for the development of the plan.

During the war there w T as great development in the pro-
duction of tractors from the point of view of size, price,
and adaptability. The tractor of to-day is run by gasoline or
kerosene ; by comparison with former types it is cheap,
as regards original cost, maintenance, and running expenses.
The development of these tractors was due to the lack of
labor and of farm animals, and to the great demand for food

Although these comparatively light machines are too heavy
to use on flooded fields, they may possibly be of value in the
cultivation of upland fields and the production of upland rice.
Much of the failure in the production of upland rice is due to


the poor preparation of the ground ; lack of adequate culti-
vation before planting permits the weeds to spring up and
choke out the rice. The tractor and the modern plow turn
the soil much more deeply than can be done with the carabao
and native plow. For the three years previous to 1919 abun-
dant harvests of upland rice were produced on certain limited
areas in the vicinity of Munoz, Nueva Ecija, by the use of
tractors with modern plows.

Commercial concerns are already interesting themselves in
this new phase of rice cultivation. If the results are successful,
this adaptation of the extensive method of rice cultivation
may bring large areas of uncultivated land into production,
and solve the rice problems in the Philippines. The practical
results are, however, still problematical.


Has anything been accomplished in the past nine years
toward improving the rice situation in the Philippines ? The
experiences of 1919 indicate progress.

The World War destroyed much food; there was a lack
of food production in Europe ; the armies absorbed labor
power ; the destruction of agricultural machinery and of ani-
mals was appalling ; there was much diversion of labor from
agricultural to war industries ; Europe called on Asia for food.
Meanwhile the people of the Orient were demanding more
food for themselves ; the war conditions in Europe brought
great prosperity to Japan, the Philippines, and other coun-
tries, and gave the people greater purchasing power. At
the same time a poor crop occurred in southwestern Asia. A
world shortage of rice existed. In Japan serious rice riots
occurred, because food was expensive and difficult to secure.
Famines occurred in India and China.

This condition became evident in the statistics of rice im-
portation into the Philippines. For the first six months of


1918 a normal importation of 77,642,000 kilos was recorded ;
for the first six months in 1919 the importation was only
42,634,000 kilos ; in July of 1918 there were 26,000,000 kilos
imported, and in July of 1919 only 4,000,000 kilos. At the
same time prices increased from about nine to sixteen centavos
a kilo ; since the price of imported rice determines the price
of the domestic crop, the cost of rice to the people in the
Philippines doubled.

As rice increased in price, speculators hoarded it, expecting J
to realize tremendous profits. Moreover, a general poverty of \
transportation facilities left large quantities of rice in the gran-
ary regions, while the export sections of the Islands lacked
sufficient for daily food. The cost of rice rose to exorbitant '
figures, and the people were unable to buy.

At this point the government took the matter in hand ]
and fixed a price of Pl5 a sack. This, however, was too low, '
as became evident when the merchants refused to sell and
withdrew their stock from the market. Then the government
fixed a price of P16.25 for first-class rice, Pi 5. 75 for second-
class rice, and Pl4 for third-class rice. These regulations
proved only partly satisfactory ; for many retailers and some
wholesalers were forced out of business.

The government, therefore, began purchasing rice and
sending it out to the provinces in which shortages existed.
Typhoons and floods happened to occur in August and in-
terfered with the moving of rice, especially from the Central
Plain of Luzon, to such an extent that in localities like
Sorsogon, Samar, Cebu, and Manila, which are dependent
on imported rice, conditions of famine prevailed.

The public jumped to the conclusion that Island-wide
shortage of rice existed. This was a natural conclusion if
drawn from the statistics of imports alone. The government,
however, after investigating, announced that there was enough
rice in the Philippines to last until the next harvest, and
purchased only 3,000,000 kilos of the 10,000,000 made


available in Saigon through the United States government.
Do available figures indicate that the government was right ?
These figures have been plotted in Chart III.

Of all the factors which have influenced the rice situation
since 1910, it will be noted, only imports of rice into the
Philippines have remained stationary, with a tendency to de-
crease, while rice area, yield per hectare, total production,

Online LibraryHugo Herman MillerEconomic conditions in the Philippines → online text (page 4 of 36)