Vivid colors, bulging Cacao pods, proverbs and Biblical sayings in Cacao trees welcomes you as you enter Dan Mitchao’s farm in Marilog, Davao. In the left side, you can see Cacao trees in terraces and as you look at the base of each tree are dig pockets filled with compost materials underneath the moist soil. A view contrary to what was once a vast, parched land located 600 meters above sea level. Pits and ditches can also be seen in some parts of the slope. All this, form a technology called Upland Micro-catchment technology designed to catch storm water for irrigation.
Sunnier side of rains
Rainfall is nature’s way of irrigating highland farming therefore the periodic rains during wet season, inter-tropical convergence zones, Easterlies, tail of the cold front and low pressure area or typhoons can bring us good if we know how to manage storm water. Wet upland soils are usually productive and fertile (Chandler,1968) however, during heavy rains, less water enters the soil on steep slopes than relatively level or flat areas ( Arend, 1942). Also, Infiltration capacity of upland soils is usually decreased as a result of grazing and/or repeated burning (Heiberg,1993). Runoff may occur when rainfall intensity exceeds with the infiltration capacity of upland soils ( Lutz,1946) The result? Flooding and/or soil erosion which can ruin lives. After our exposure visit with the farmers last week in Forester Dan Mitchao’s farm in Marilog, Davao, I learned that we can control flooding by way of micro-catchments. This technology developed by Forester Mitchao help facilitate the returning of water to its table to prevent runoff.
As we walked down to the nursery station, I can see the Cacao plantation in beautiful array above. Farm manager Vic Daratu, then pointed his hand to a pond and told me “before, we cannot draw water from this hole, but because of the micro-catchments above, we were able sustain this nursery.”