Perspectives of Alternative and Conventional Farmers on “Sustainable Agriculture” in Southern Mindanao, Philippines

Rowena T Baconguis, Federico A Cruz
Vol 7 No 2 (2004), pp. 14-28




The study analyzed the local farmers’ perspective of sustainable agriculture and identified differences in farming knowledge and practices between alternative and conventional farmers in M’lang, Cotabato, Philippines, a municipality where several non-governmental organizations vigorously promoted sustainable agriculture. An equal number of 50 alternative and conventional farmers served as the respondents. Results revealed that the alternative farmers’ understanding of sustainable agriculture focused primarily on financial independence and non-use of synthetic inputs. The alternative farmers did not use synthetic inputs, practiced crop rotation and intercropping, and had more diverse crops in the farm while conventional farmers relied heavily on synthetic inputs to control pests, and practiced mono cropping. Crop productivity, not net income, was higher for conventional than alternative farmers. The financial relative advantage of alternative farming was contingent on a number of factors like price support of the NGOs. The promotion of alternative agriculture serves as a positive step towards the attainment of sustainable agriculture as alternative rice farmers showed a better understanding of the concept compared to conventional farmers. However, the thrust of promoting alternative agriculture failed to instill a comprehensive understanding of sustainable agriculture among the alternative rice farmers. It is therefore recommended that strategies to enhance understanding of sustainable agriculture, such as the institutionalization of government policy support for alternative products and promotion of all elements of sustainable agriculture, particularly decentralization, diversity, religiosity, community, and restrained, be pursued.


Keywords: alternative agriculture, conventional agriculture, sustainable agriculture, sustainable development

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