Solon calls for more assistance for women in agriculture

March 8, 2012

Ruben “Jun” Cruz
Business Mirror
March 8, 2012

THE government should consider launching public-private partnership (PPP) projects that will enable women in the agricultural sector to contribute more in their families’ finances, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan who chairs the Senate committees on Agriculture and Food, and Social Justice and Rural Development, said women in agriculture should be “empowered with economic opportunity.”

“Experience across different sectors and even different countries shows that when you empower a woman with economic opportunity, you empower not only an individual but also a family and a community. Sadly, experience has also shown that women in agriculture, especially here in the Philippines, have been largely neglected for decades,” he said in a statement.

Citing data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Pangilinan said roughly a third of the agricultural sector in the Philippines is powered by women although their “contribution to food production and rural economy remains undervalued if not invisible.”

He said FAO noted that many women in the rural economy are “landless workers, traders of agricultural and fishery products, and engaged in micro-manufacturing enterprises.” Many are also active in planting, weeding, caring for crops, and harvesting in farms and rice fields.

“It is sad and unjust how government has largely failed to address the needs of a third of our agriculture and fisheries sector. Imagine what we can achieve if we give women not only access to jobs and livelihood opportunities in the rural areas, but also training and capacity-building to improve their knowledge and skills,” said Pangilinan.

He cited the experience from the micro-finance sector, which shows a high repayment rate (99.44 percent for CARD-MRI, for instance) among “nanays” in communities. Success stories have shown women evolving from struggling landless workers to thriving entrepreneurs.

“All these women need is a strong support structure around which they can increase their income and empower their families and communities. If we put our heads together and reimagine the possibilities, there is much that we can do to empower women in the agricultural sector,” he said.

Pangilinan, who in January 2012 launched “Sagip Saka,” an advocacy aimed at improving incomes of farmers and fisherfolk while modernizing the agricultural sector,  stressed the importance of uplifting the agriculture and fisheries sector, which directly and indirectly accounts for at least 60 percent of the Philippine economy.

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