Gender and Development Expert Underscores Role of Women in Rice Farming

Wed, 03/23/2022 - 10:41
PhilRice has developed gender-neutral machines for women farmers that are safe and easy to use. (photo by PhilRice)
PhilRice has developed gender-neutral machines for women farmers that are safe and easy to use. (photo by PhilRice)

DILIMAN, Quezon City—In celebration of the National Women’s Month, the role of women in rice farming and agribusiness was put on spotlight last March 19, 2022 in the 56th episode of the Agricultural Training Institute’s (ATI) weekly teleradyo program, “Agri Asenso”.

“Based on studies, women play different roles in agriculture and it also depends on the local culture. For example, in Cordillera, women are active in land preparation and harvest activities, while in Central Luzon and other areas where there are vast rice fields, women are usually seen helping in transplanting and weed management,” Diadem Gonzales-Esmero, Gender and Development (GAD) expert of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), said.

She added that, overall, women are seen in the entrepreneurial side of farming such as selling palay, product processing, and value-adding which are a source of extra income for every farm family.

According to Gonzales-Esmero, who also serves as the head of PhilRice’s Development Communication Division, there has been a big improvement in terms of the gender conditions in the rice industry in the Philippines even though there are still more men than women farmers.

“Somehow, women farmers now have bigger participation in farming especially in the rice industry. As you can see, there are more women who lead cooperatives and entrepreneurial activities. Although, the women’s sector is yet to reach its maximum potential in terms of involvement in the farming industry,” she said during her on-air interview.

As part of the gender mainstreaming efforts of PhilRice, gender-neutral farm machines were developed for women farmers. These include drum seeder and microtiller which are lightweight, easy to operate, safe to use, and can help ease farm drudgery and minimize injuries.

She also spoke of the assistance that women farmers can avail themselves of under the Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act No. 9710). These include access to seeds, protection and recognition of indigenous farming practices, access to information, and participation in training.

“To all women out there, we are not just women. We have so many capabilities which we need to nurture so that we can contribute in the development of our nation, especially the agriculture sector. Sama-sama nating iangat ang agenda ng mga kababaihan,” she concluded.

Gonzales-Esmero’s interview on “Agri Asenso” was held with DZRH broadcaster Henry Uri and ATI OIC-Assistant Director Niet Arceo. It was aired on DZRH AM, DZRH News Television, and DZRH Facebook and YouTube, as well as the ATI’s official Facebook page.