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Philippine Journal of Crop Science 2002, 27(3): 53-58

Copyright 2004, Crop Science Society of the Philippines


Released December 2004

SOCIAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF RICE HULL-BURNING &


STALE-SEEDBED TECHNIQUE OF IPM-CRSP
SM ROGUEL,1 RB MALASA2 & IR TANZO 3
1 Professor,

Central Luzon State University, Science City of Muoz, Nueva Ecija, Philippines. 2 Science Research

Specialist, Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Maligaya, Science City of Muoz,
Nueva Ecija, Philippines. 3 Senior Science Research Specialist, PhilRice

The study assessed the possible social impacts of advocating weed management
techniques, specifically rice hull-burning (RHB) and stale-seedbed technique (SST) in two
barangays in two towns of Nueva Ecija: Palestina in San Jose City and Kaingin in
Bongabon, using Krawetz SIA Model. The study made use of comparative analysis since
the farmers in San Jose are already known to practice RHB as one of the essential
components in their control of weeds during the onion season, while the farmers in
Bongabon do not utilize this practice. In both study areas, there is heavy application of
herbicide, which can be a source of health problems. Thus, the social variables assessed in
this study included: income, health and safety, household, social relations, community
structure and processes, community resources, and support services. Results showed that
RHB offers many advantages. The researchers suggest that further studies be conducted to
verify its effect on health and the environment. Rice-hull supply and road accessibility are
two other factors to consider in RHB adoption or adoption. Concerning SST, the
researchers found that the technology is socially acceptable. CRSP researchers should
disseminate it among farmers and inform and train the DA technicians on how to apply
the method. Demonstration farms or plots can be established in different barangays to
further expedite the spread of the SST technology among farmers.
Keywords health problems, Krawetz SIA model, rice hull-burning, social impact of
technology, stale-seedbed technique, weed control

INTRODUCTION
Researchers have always assumed apriori
that the new technologies that they are
introducing are the ones needed by a given
community. However, the question that
remains is why a certain technology is still not
being adopted despite the higher economic
gains it promises its beneficiaries. At present,
cultural practices, beliefs, traditions, and
other social factors are being considered to
determine if a technology being introduced is
suited to the community. It is surmised that it
is easier to transfer technologies once they are
perceived to be socially acceptable. For the
purposes of this study, the researchers tried to
assess the possible social impacts of rice hullburning (RHB) and stale-seedbed techniques
(SST), which are being studied by the
Integrated Pest Management Collaborative
Research Support Program (IPM-CRSP) at the

Philippine Rice Research Institute for future


adoption. The impact of RHB and SST on
factors like income, health and safety,
household,
social
relations,
community
structure and processes, community resources,
and support services are to be considered
before these weed control strategies are
advocated on a wider scale.
RHB has been observed to be a common
weed control practice among farmers
producing Yellow Granex and bulb onions in
some areas of Nueva Ecija. Verification of the
practice through research showed that the
method worked and provided more benefits
(Gergon et al 2000). The experiments revealed
that weed growth in unburned plots was 55%
higher compared to that of the burned plots.
RHB has likewise effectively reduced
microbial population specifically the root-knot
nematode (Meloidogyne graminicola), thus
decreasing the incidence and severity of pink

root diseases in onions. Furthermore, their


studies have shown that the thicker the rice
hull burned in the field, the more P and K
contents would be present in the soil. This can
promote increase in bulb weight and diameter
of Yellow Granex. Onion yields were observed
to be as much as 4 times greater in fields
subjected to RHB as compared to fields
without RHB.
Similarly, onion plots subjected to SST of
tillage during fallow periods between rice and
onion crops had significantly lowered the
population of Cyperus rotundus resulting in
higher yields over controlled farmers practice
and unweeded plots. With lesser number of
handweeding and herbicide applications, the
researchers indicated that there was increase
in the profits gained by farmers (Baltazar et al
2000).
Considering that some farmers are
already utilizing these technologies and that
research results showed that these are
promising technologies for dissemination,
social impact assessment (SIA) has to be
conducted. Thus, the objectives of the study
were as follows:
1. To determine the communities perception
on the use/adoption of RHB and SST.
2. To identify and assess the possible social
effects and impacts of RHB and SST on
the community.
3. To formulate and suggest mitigation and
enhancement measures for the negative
impacts of RHB and SST to properly suit
the needs of the community/

MATERIALS & METHODS


A combination of research techniques such
as focus group discussion (FGD), documentary
analysis, and key informant interviews were
used for the SIA of RHB and SST. The SIA
model of Krawetz (1991) was employed in the
technology assessment of RHB and SST. This
model has the major steps of projecting,
assessing and evaluating, and mitigating,
enhancing and stating residual impacts of an
introduced technology. In projecting, the
researcher describes the anticipated social
environment in the future with the proposed
technology. Effects that are significant are
called impacts. The researcher then suggests
means of reducing or ridding the technology of
its negative impacts and at the same time
enhancing its positive impacts.
Kaingin in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija is one
of the experimental sites of IPM-CRSP where
farmers do not practice RHB. Their onion
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production practices were compared with the


farmers in Palestina, San Jose City, Nueva
Ecija who utilize RHB. A comparative analysis
of the two barangays was made so that the
researchers can approximate the possible
impact if and when a community adopts RHB
technology. Comparative analysis was not
employed on the SST because it was assumed
to be a new technology and both communities
do not practice it yet. The researchers,
however, compared and contrasted the weed
control methods that farmers employed
relative to SST so that they can approximate
the changes that would take place if and when
it adopts the SST technology.
A focus group discussion (FGD) was used
to obtain the current practices of farmers on
onion production, particularly on weed
management.
The
assistance
of
the
agricultural technicians assigned in the
barangays was solicited in identifying the
respondents. Three FGDs were conducted; one
in Kaingin where the distinction was made
between farmers who planted both red and
yellow onions and those who only planted
yellow onions. Ten respondents were involved
in the FGD, 9 male and 1 female.
Two FGDs were conducted in Palestina
with two kinds of farmers: those utilizing RHB
(10 participants, all male) and those who were
not (also 10 participants, all male). The groups
were also divided into two: those who planted
both red and yellow onions and those who
solely planted yellow onion. Farmers planting
the same varieties were seated together
during the FGD.
After the farmers presented their
practices, the IPM CRSP technologies were
then introduced as well as the benefits they
could possibly get from these technologies with
the aide of the technical researchers. The
researchers also inquired what possible
reasons as to why the given technology may or
may not suit their farming practices.
The researchers also gathered secondary
data to substantiate and validate the claims
made during the FGD and to assess the
acceptability
and
suitability
of
the
technologies to both barangays. The SIA was
conducted in August 2001.

RESULTS & DISCUSSION


Rice hull-burning
Palestina, San Jose City, Nueva Ecija
The economic analysis done by Francisco
& Norton (1999) with data obtained in
Social Impact Of Rice hull-burning

Palestina from farmers practicing RHB,


revealed that the economic benefit from RHB
ranges from P 77, 867 or $1,557.34 up to
P 116,797 or $ 2,335.94. Profit largely depends
on how thick is the rice hull applied on the
field (15-30 cm), where the thicker the rice
hull burned, the higher the income.
During the FGD, farmers stated that if
they planted the Yellow Granex variety, they
needed more or less P 40,000 or $800 as
capital. With this, their approximate profit is
P 72,500 or $ 1,450, which was not very far
from the results of the study of Francisco. It is
interesting to note that the farmers only
placed 15-cm-thick layer of rice hull on their
field. In the case of red onion, they needed a
capital of not less than P 30,000 or $ 600 and
had an approximate net incremental benefit of
more or less P 50,000 or $ 1,000.
The researchers also found out that most
of the farmers were knowledgeable as to why
they practiced RHB. The primary reason they
cited was that it was a valuable method for
controlling weeds. They also noted that the
onion bulbs they harvested were much bigger
and they attributed this to the soil being loose.
The onions they produced then commanded
better prices in the market since they could
qualify for export. Gergon & Miller (2000)
obtained similar results in their study. RHB
significantly reduced the population of M.
graminicola and the bulbs produced were
bigger and heavier. The ash of the burned rice
hull served as fertilizer and increased the P
and K content of the soil.
The researchers got interested when they
found that there were also farmers in
Palestina who did not practice RHB. These
farmers preferred to plant bulb onions since
these were more competitive against weeds
than
varieties
grown
through
seeds.
Furthermore, they mentioned that when they
planted yellow onions in their fields, they
noted that the bulbs would be relatively
smaller yet heavier than the ones that were
planted with RHB. They attributed this to the
fact that onions which were planted in a field
with RHB absorbed more water, which was
then mostly stored in the bulb and made them
bigger. The onions they produced without
RHB were more compact even though they
were not as big.
Upon further inquiry, the farmers stated
that inaccessibility of their farm to land
transportation was the major constraint why
they could not order rice hull to be dumped on
their fields. Another factor was the distance.
Thus they believed that the transportation
SM Roguel, RM Malasa & IR Tanzo

cost was too high for their purposes.


Farmers practicing RHB also stated some
negative effects brought about by the activity
in relation to their community. They cited that
during the peak of the onion season,
sometimes conflicts arose because the supply
of rice hull was not enough and there was a
high demand for it. Due to this, a stiff
competition for the rice hull would develop
among farmers. Another problem was the
smoke coming from the burning rice hull,
which was another source of hostility around
the neighborhood. According to them, the
smoke was one of the causes for cough/cold
and other allergies experienced by the
children. Some of them speculated that RHB
must be the cause of one of the recent diseases
of onion in which the leaves twisted (farmers
referred to it as twister). Researchers, on the
other hand, refer to the disease as
anthracnose of onion, which is caused by soil
or
airborne
pathogens
(Colletotrichum
gloeosporioides). They also mentioned that the
storing capacity of their RHB harvest was not
as long as that of their non-RHB harvest.
A new city ordinance was formulated in
San Jose, which prohibited burning rice hull
in ricefields, although such ordinance had not
yet been implemented. The practice was
widespread and the farmers were aware of the
RHBs benefits. The community seemed to be
tolerant of the practice.
RHB also favors the rice millers. Rice hull
disposal has always been a big problem among
the millers. RHB provides them two benefits:
(1) they are able to dispose the rice hull at no
expense, and (2) they get additional income
while the problem is being solved for them.
Millers are able to sell it for P 70 - P 100 per
truckload depending on the demand. Where
the rice hull was not utilized for RHB, the
millers dumped and burned it by the roadside.
In this case, that caused some problems to the
environment. Consequently, some researchers
advocate that it would be better if the rice hull
is burned in the farmers fields where it is
beneficial.
Kaingin, Bongabon, Nueva Ecija
Most farmers in Kaingin planted Red
Creole and Yellow Granex onion cultivars.
They were aware of the economic and
agricultural benefits that can be derived from
RHB. When the researchers asked them why
they did not utilize the technology, the major
constraint they mentioned was the lack of
supply of rice hull since there were only a few
55

millers in their area. The other reason was


road inaccessibility in some areas. Big trucks
hauling rice hull cannot reach some farmers
fields.
One concern of the researchers was that
where farmers accepted the technology, this
would help widen the gap between social
layers. With RHB as estimated by Francisco
(2000) as already cited, the economic benefit is
P 116,797 or $ 2,335.94 per growing season.
That is a tremendous amount of money locally
considered. People who have better access to
the rice hull supply are those living along the
highway and provincial roads where
transportation is accessible. In the meantime,
the children within the locality may also get
sick due to continuous smoke inhalation from
the rice hull-burning.
Interviews with environmental experts
revealed that burning rice hulls can contribute
to the greenhouse gases (GHG) being released
to the atmosphere, specifically carbon dioxide
(CO2). To what extent is subject to verification.

Stale-Seedbed Technique

The researchers have assumed that SST is


a new technology that has yet to be
disseminated to farmers in order to control
weeds, specifically the purple nutsedge. As
indicated by Baltazar et al (2000), this method
can reduce the number of handweeding and
herbicide application to one in a single onion
cropping. As we listened to the farmers
recitation of their practices, however, we
learned that SST was basically the method
that they employed when planting bulb
onions. One farmer in San Jose even pointed
out that this was actually their practice before
but abandoned it when they learned about the
benefits of RHB.
During the study, the researchers noted
that the SST as conceived by the CRSP and
that practiced by the farmers differed.
Farmers preferred to employ 2-3 herbicide
applications and 2-3 handweedings in one
cropping. The researchers also noted that
farmers tended to prepare a cocktail of the
different herbicides in order to save on labor,
mixing fluazifop-p-butyl with oxyflourfen. The
researchers would not advocate this practice
since the combining of herbicides into one
solution might produce chemical reactions
that might be lethal not only to the weeds or
the soil but even to the onion itself.
In any case, since the CRSP-SST
technology is similar to the farmers practice
(especially with bulb onions); the researchers

56

surmise that the technology will be very easy


for the farmers to adopt. The only problem
would be its proper implementation because
the farmers are spending too much for
handweeding (especially the latter part of the
season) for fear that the weeds may still affect
their yield. A seminar on how they can
manage their weeds efficiently can be
sponsored by IPM-CRSP.
The possible negative impact of the CRSPSST is reduction of labor. Several men, women
and children might receive lesser income since
the number of handweedings will be reduced.
With regard to farmers who were planting
red onions in Bongabon and also rice, they
could not properly implement the two
harrowings with a two-week interval between
each operation because of the short fallow
periods between cropping seasons. They
stressed that they needed to prepare their
land for less than a month so that they can
have one cropping season for onion within the
year. Except for them, the researchers believe
that there will be no major difficulty for the
farmers to adopt this technology.
A summary of the impacts of SST and the
mitigations/recommendations postulated by
the researchers is shown in Table 1.

CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS


Based
on
economic
analysis
and
mitigations to lessen the negative impacts on
several
social
factors,
the
following
conclusions
and
recommendations
are
presented:
1) RHB and SST are effective weed
management strategies, however, they
both have positive and negative impacts.
2) The positive impact of RHB seemingly
outweighs its negative effects. It offers
many advantages including increased
yield and reduced pesticide use, thus
contributing to higher income of farmers.
3) Further studies must be conducted to
verify the impact of RHB on the
environment and health.
4) Rice
hull
availability
and
road
accessibility play a crucial role in the
adoption of RHB. If these two factors were
present, farmers would tend to adopt and
practice RHB.
5) Information campaigns must be conducted
on the advantages and disadvantages of
RHB to aid farmers in decision-making. It
is possible that they can offer insights to
mitigate the negative effects of RHB.
Social Impact Of Rice hull-burning

Table 1. Impacts, constraints and mitigations for RHB


Positive Impact
Farmers find it useful for
controlling weeds

Negative Impact/Constraint
Smoke from the rice hull being burned
contribute to health problems:
coughing and cold (children are the
ones mostly affected); it is possible
that the smoke could also lead to other
lung problems
Conflicts arise among neighboring
farmers due to the smoke

Mitigation/Recommendations
Verify if synchronous burning is
possible to avoid conflicts brought
about by the smoke
Obtain records from municipal
health officer with regard to the
incidence of respiratory problems
during RHB period to quantify
possible negative impact on health
Hold information campaigns with
regard to the advantages and
disadvantages of rice-hull burning
to aid farmers in decision making
(It is possible that they can offer
more insights on mitigating the
negative effects of the RHB)
Verify applicability of PhilRice
gasifier to suit needs for RHB to
manage direction of smoke

Cost of onion production is


reduced since number of
handweeding, herbicide and
fertilizer application is
reduced

Possible displacement of labor for


hand weeding

Need to introduce supplementary


work for male and female

Biodiversity is affected

Quantify effect on biodiversity to


verify impact of RHB

Lessen possible intoxication


of farmers due to reduced
application of herbicides
Soil fertility is enhanced

Release GHG to the atmosphere which


contribute to global warming

Conduct soil analysis to check for


soil presence of soil borne
pathogens

Higher profit because Yellow


Granex onion qualify the
grade for export

Storing capacity for Yellow Granex


becomes shorter

Extra income for millers

Road damages due to the size of


trucks, specifically in Bongabon, where
roads are not in good condition as well
as some barangay roads in San Jose
City

CRSP should establish link with


LGUs and inform policy makers of
the advantages of RHB and the
importance of road accessibility for
its utilization

Conflict/competition among neighbors


arise if supply of rice hull is limited

Greater social stratification due to


road inaccessibility and unequal
distribution of rice hull

Millers find it a beneficial


way of disposing rice hulls
rather than the just burning
it along the road side

6) The advantages of SST far outweigh its


negative effects, so the researchers find it
a socially acceptable technology. SST
should be disseminated to rice-onion
farmers and extension workers to expedite
its utilization. Demonstration farms

should be established in different


barangays in cooperation with local
government units or with farmers
organization for possible adaptation of the
technology.

Acknowledgement
We would like to thank the Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Support Program (IPM-CRSP) of the
Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) for funding this study.

SM Roguel, RM Malasa & IR Tanzo

57

LITERATURE CITED
Baltazar AM et al. 2000. Reducing the herbicide use with agronomic practices in onions (Allium
cepa) grown after rice (Oryza sativa). The Philippine Agricultural Scientist 83 (1): 34-44.
Francisco SR & GW Norton. 1999. Economic impacts of IPM practices in rice-vegetable systems.
Sixth IPM CRSP Annual Report, Virginia Tech, VA.
Gergon EB & SA Miller. 2000. Effect of rice hull burning and deep plowing on the rice root knot
nematode in rice-onion cropping system with supplemental nematode control using soil
amendments. Seventh Annual Report IPM CRSP, Virginia Tech., Blacksburg, VA.
Krawetz Natalia M. 1991. Social impact assessment: an introductory handbook. Environmental
Management in Indonesia Project, Jakarta

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Social Impact Of Rice hull-burning