Jun Guarin was resourceful enough to have our improvised Rice Hull Carbonizer (RHC) prepared by one of his friends. Mang Brillante Pascual has been using the RHC since to prepare Carbonized Rice Hull (CRH) from the free rice hull requisitioned by our core volunteer team from one of the rice mills in Naguilian (?).
At present, while we need large quantities of Vetiver grass for our project, we are able to purchase only a limited quantity because of its high cost (as much as PHP8.0/tiller from a major supplier). It will take several years before we can propagate enough Vetiver for our needs from our existing Vetiver stocks. To address the aforementioned issue, we are looking for available indigenous grass species that have some characteristics more similar to Vetiver, so that these grass species may be used to supplement our limited Vetiver stocks, until such time that we can propagate enough Vetiver.
From our preliminary observations, Tanglar grass colonies tend to grow in areas where water may collect during the rainy season. Other grass species, like sikal, cogon, and other water loving plants grow also in the same location. However, unlike sikal or cogon Tanglar grass colonies tend to be more localized, and has certain characteristics more similar to Vetiver.
Goats allowed to forage freely at the hilltop with several randomly growing grass species and cassava to choose. Like every animal given a choice, they select the softer and smoother cover grass over the cassava. They declined to feed on the cut leaves of Vetiver.
The population of the Philippines exploded about five (5) fold since 1950 (~20 million) to 2014 (~100 million). To put this into perspective. if the Philippines were a microcosm of the world, the Philippine population in 2014 would be equivalent to about fifty (50) billion people on earth. Yes, that's in billion!
This population explosion puts a great strain on the ability of the Philippines to provide the basic necessities including the ability to provide sufficient food. The Philippines has been importing rice in great quantities since 1995, now averaging more than a million tons of milled rice annually. The Philippines also imports in significant quantities many basic food necessities, including milk, meat, wheat, and more.
To complicate the issue further, the explosive population growth in the Philippines also led to conversion of agricultural lands for use in other human activities. To avoid further deterioration in its ability to the meet the needs of the people, the Philippines must take serious steps to minimize further reduction in lands allocated for agriculture. Also, existing agricultural lands, like the farm land in fallow shown below, must be rejuvenated to become productive year round.
Water availability is critical to ensure that a farm system becomes productive year round. Relevant to this goal is the question: Is there enough water in different regions of the Philippines to enable food production year round?
To address the issue of water availability, the rainfall data in various regions of the Philippines were compared with those from other countries of the world that actually experienced severe water shortages (as low as 100-400 mm per year) and yet found solutions to overcome water scarcity. Our preliminary analysis indicates that there is more than sufficient annual rainwater in any of the regions of the Philippines to meet the demand of agricultural production and water consumption for other human activities.
The capability to provide the water needs of an exploding population would be ensured even more if wastewater from agriculture and other human activities are treated and recycled.