The Philippines is bordered by the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It has three major island groups which are the Luzon, the largest island and where the capital is located; Visayan, and Mindanao. Eleven islands make up 94 percent of the Philippine landmass, and two of these -- Luzon and Mindanao -- measure 105, 000 and 95, 000 square kilometers, respectively. They, together with the cluster of the Visayan Islands that separate them, represent the three principal regions of the archipelago (many scattered islands in a large body of water) that are identified by the three stars on the Philippine flag. The climate is dry and hot from March to May and wet during typhoon season from June to October.

The national language of the Philippines is Filipino although there are several other dialects. As with many formerly colonized nations English is the language used for most business and legal transactions. Cantonese, and Mandarin are spoken by older members of the Filipino-Chinese community. Most Filipinos belong to the Roman Catholic faith.

Filipinos also practice Islam and Buddhism. Of the 70 million people residing in these islands, 70% are farmers making agriculture the most important economic activity. Many of the farmers do not own their own land and have to rent. A great portion of individual harvest are used to pay landlords. Typhoons, monsoons and volcanoes are among the natural disasters which greatly affect farmers in this region. There are 37 volcanoes in the Philippines 28 of which are active.

Three of the most known volcanoes are found in the northern island of Luzon, Mount Pintaubo, Mount Mayon, and the Taal volcano. In 1992, although its citizens had many reasons to hope for a brighter future, the Philippines was a nation plagued with many economic and political problems. These problems had been aggravated by a series of natural disasters. In July of 1990 in northern Luzon a massive earthquake struck. Later that year there was a devastating typhoon in the central Vistas. Subsequently, the Mount Pinatubo volcano in Central Luzon erupted in early June of 1991.

The eruption covered the surrounding countryside with molten ash and caused serious damage in the region. Building construction is undertaken with natural disasters in mind. Most rural housing has consisted of nipa huts (from sap of an Australasian palm). These huts are easily damaged but are inexpensive and easy to replace. Most urban buildings are steel and concrete structures designed to resist typhoons and earthquakes. Damage is still significant, however, and many people are marginalized each year by typhoons, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

Land Use Due to the effects of urbanization and industry, the amount of land available for agriculture is rapidly reducing. Of the total land area of 792, 607 hectares for Negros Occidental (the Philippines) the Alienable and Disposable (A & D) areas covers 68. 17 percent 0 r 540, 350. 13 hectares. Classified Forest Land occupies 31.

83 percent (252, 256. 53 hectares). Cropland makes up most of which is considered Alienable and Disposable. This includes the residential, commercial and institutional areas as well as agricultural lands. Fish ponds are also found in this area occupying an area of 9, 333. 14 hectares.

Zoning and land use plans have been put into place to regulate the development of communities ensuring that the distribution of land is properly allocated so that it is not in incompatible use. Despite these measures, many farmers are very poor. The average size of an individual farm in the Philippines is 1. 5. hectares. Small farms can only produce enough for subsistence purposes.

The Filipino Government implemented the International Rice Research Institute to assist the country in becoming self sufficient. This institute attempts to persuade farmers to cultivate new varieties of rice which are high yielding if grown with artificial fertilizers. The "Green Revolution" was not successful. It temporarily succeeded in raising yields but the artificial fertilizer became costly. Along with this problem, the number of pests and diseases multiplied due to the softness of the new fertilized rice. The result of this movement was the decline in the prices of rice and farmers were ultimately in the same position they started from.

Agriculture The Philippines is highly favored in terms of vegetation. There are many fruits grown in the islands including mango, pineapple, tamarind, oranges, lemons, lit-chi, plums, the chico mamey, and the papaw. Many bananas are produced and this fruit is favored by the poor people, supplying them with cheap nutrition. Vegetables which are cultivated in the Philippines include calabashes, melons, watermelons, cucumbers, carrots, celery, parsley, tomatoes, egg plants, peppers, cabbages, lettuce, onions, asparagus, and peas.

The cocoanut tree is considered highly important, because the oil has many uses. Tobacco is also cultivated as a crop and is often grown in the same field as maize. The Philippines also grow many spices including cinnamon, nutmegs, pepper, ginger, and marjoram In the late 1980 s over 25 percent of land had been divided into field crops, and tree crops. Population growth reduced the amount of arable land per person employed in agriculture. Growth in output had to come from multi cropping and increasing yields. In the early 1980's the output was actually more than the available land for agriculture.

Play (un husked rice) and corn, the two major crops widely grown in the Philippines, accounted for about half of total crop area. Irrigated rice cultivation has increased in intensity to up to three crops per year in Central Luzon. Problems associated with such intensified systems include a possible yield decline or stagnation due to factors which include insects and diseases. Climatic conditions are very important in determining patterns in crop production. For example, coconut trees need a constant supply of water and do not do well in areas with a prolonged dry season. Sugarcane, on the other hand, , needs moderate rainfall spread out over a long growing period and a dry season for ripening and harvesting.

Aside from the uncertainty of rainfalls other key factors which present major problems of upland rice in the Philippines are droughts, weeds, diseases, acidic soils, and soil erosion In 1985 a national rice research instate called Phil Rice was created. This instate. is located in Central Luzon and among its goals is to improve the economic conditions of small farmers and. Phil Rice also intends to develop a national rice research program, which would serve to sustain gains made in rice production, solve site-specific problems, and coordinate activities of all agencies in the country working on rice.

Among Phil Rices' program areas are rice varietal improvement, planting and fertilizer management, integrated pest management, and rice based farming systems. In 1999 the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) was introduced to the Philippines. This new method employed assisted organic rice production by offering alternatives to herbicides, boosting the activity of organic fertilizers, slightly reducing the amount of water and seed usage, and the management of crop pests to name a few. The SRI method is not without obstacles, however.

This method requires more labor inflating expenditure. Presently, more research is being conducted in order maximize the yields of individual farmers. In 2000, the Association of Masipag Rice Promoters was formed. Masipag is a chemical-free rice farming system developed by scientists and farmers working together. Their natural solutions are sure and simple. Frogs flourish in the chemical-free waters, and frogs eat bugs.

Horsetail grass grown amongst the rice combats plant diseases. Rows planted east to west mean the crop gets more sunlight, discouraging pests. And cleaner soil means earthworms are back. Chemical free rice farming appears to be a more cost-effective solution for individual farmers. The tropics are effect by many weather conditions which makes the jobs of farmers difficult. Overall subsistence and the GNP are effected by changes in weather, which for the most part is not always predictable.

In a world that is divided up into the haves and the have nots, government influence is crucial in regulating practices and the overall distribution of wealth Despite this fact, programs implemented did not always succeed in benefit ting the Filipinos. One major attribute of the Philippines is the wide variety of crops produced in this region. Crops which many not be able to grow during the rainy season may grow during in the period of December - May when there is little rainfall (and vice versa). References 1- Making a Difference: Organic farming in the Philippines web caf od / people /partners in asia / organic farming in the philippines 2- SRI Experience in the Philippines Robert Gasparillo, Broad Initiatives for Negro Development 3- web land class. htm 4- web.