Rep. Lilia Nuno bats for more gov’t support for women-farmers PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 March 2015 18:22

Zamboanga City Second District Rep. Lilia Macrohon-Nuño on Tueday paid tribute to the country’s women, particularly those in the agricultural sector whom she said deserved to get more government support since they played a crucial role in the campaign to attain food security for the nation.

In a speech delivered before the House of Representatives on the celebration of Women’s Month, Nuño cited the significant role of country’s three million women farmers who make up more than 25 percent of the 12-million-strong agricultural sector nationwide.

“Even as we recognize the role of women in these many lights, we hardly see them as women farmers. Seldom do we see them as an important direct force in ensuring our country’s food security,” Nuño said in her speech. “Women farmers are very much around—tilling the land, planting, harvesting, marketing their produce— while also taking care of their families, keeping the house, and fulfilling a great deal of many other responsibilities.”

“In this era of gender equality, it is the best time to wear our gender lenses. Let us look closely at how women fare in the work in ensuring that there is food on the table for the Filipino family,” she pointed out.

Echoing her advocacy that government should prioritize the modernization of rural farms to attain food security, Nuño lamented that, like their male counterparts, women farmers also do not get adequate support from government.

“Women who farm smallholdings hardly have access to agricultural support. They are not able to start or expand their income-generating activities because of the lack of access to credit and other financial services such as savings and deposits, despite their supposed higher repayment rates than men,” Nuño said.

Nuño noted that financial institutions like rural banks do not offer credit facilities to women farmers because they do not have any experience in borrowing money.

“The lack of collateral that they can put against a loan contributes to this setback. More often, the land title is in the name of the husbands,” Nuño said.

She also lamented that most woman farmers do not have the expertise to perform in other areas of agricultural work like in marketing, accounting, management and the like. “Illiteracy remains a challenge to most of these women farmers. Why don’t we work harder to make sure we have the resources and expertise to train women farmers in these areas of agricultural work?”

The Zamboanga City congresswoman said government should move to empower women farmers in the other areas of agricultural technology, because most of them still farm the traditional way.

“We have more work to do to empower women farmers by giving them full access to information, by making sure that agricultural extension services reach them,” Nuño explained. “We have more work to do to empower women farmers by allowing them to become members of rural organizations so that they have the equal opportunity to participate in setting directions and making decisions for their communities.”

In her speech, Nuño cited the latest report on the Gender-Based Indicators of Labor and Employment in Agriculture released in 2013 by the Philippine Statistics Authority, which stated that 25 percent of those employed in agriculture were women, numbering about three million of the total 11.83 million farmers.

This figure, she said, did not include those who work on smallholdings but did not receive regular wages. “And if they did, they received lesser than their male counterparts,” Nuño added.

In 2013, Nuño explained, women agricultural workers were paid on the average P169.27 per day. “Even as this grew by 1.48 percent over a three-year period from 2009, this amount was hardly enough to come by. No wonder our farmers, women farmers included, have remained poor,” Nuño said.

“Imagine the possibilities of fully engaging women farmers. Imagine what this country can achieve if our women farmers: use modern methods, have knowledge and skills in marketing, accounting and management, are mainstreamed into the financial system, have the power to make informed decisions. Imagine their productivity increased—the country will see a boost in agricultural production that will contribute to food security, and ultimately to economic growth,” Nuño said in her speech. “Our women farmers need help because ‘they have a primary role in agribusiness, food processing, and consumer-related activity, marketing and value added food processing’.”

Nuño said government should push for a more vigorous implementation of the Magna Carta for Women law. “We have the Magna Carta for Women, which recognizes the contribution of women to food production and lists them among its ‘special concerns,’ giving them access to credit, training programs, and marketing support services. Let us implement the law more vigorously and make it work for our women farmers,” Nuño said.