23 March 2022, Oriental Mindoro
Smallholder farmers in the Philippines bear the brunt of rising production costs, lower output and natural disasters brought about by an ever changing climate. Women farmers are often worse off as continuing gender inequality makes it more difficult for them to have access to credit, proper skills training and even healthcare.
In Oriental Mindoro province, high poverty incidence and climate vulnerability result to poor quality produce and dismal market access, especially for women farmers.
Merlinda Visca, one of the struggling women farmers in Oriental Mindoro, laments the cycle of poverty which besets those who rely on small parcels of land for their sustenance and livelihood. Recent heavy rains flooded her farm and damaged her produce. Visca wallows in debt to stay afloat, especially since she has six children to support.
“Napakahirap po ng buhay ngayon, lalo na nagsisitaasan ang presyo ng krudo at abono. Tapos wala naman po kaming natatanggap na ayuda,” Visca said.
(Life is so difficult now, especially with rising prices of fuel and fertilizer. Yet we do not receive any financial support.)
Identifying these challenges allowed the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) to originate and implement program interventions by assessing climate risks, developing policies to enhance climate-resilience, provide technical assistance and financing, and conduct trainings to improve entrepreneurial skills.
“We believe that women farmers are the backbone of the rural economy and that supporting them would help fight poverty and generate much-needed livelihood opportunities amid the Covid-19 pandemic”, said the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines.
On March 8, International Women’s Day, GGGI held a Climate Resilience Policy Planning seminar for officials and staff of the Municipality of Socorro to orient decision-makers and project implementers on the importance of considering gender equality in their climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.
This is the 10th Municipality in Oriental Mindoro where training seminars were held.
“Maraming natutunan at muli ay na refresh ang mga nag training. We have to again make some adjustments para makagawa kami ng mga aksyon na kung saan ay aakma rito sa mga tinalakay sa seminar,” Edilberto De Castro, Municipal Agriculturist and training participant said.
(We learned a lot. This is a refresher training for those of us who attended. We have to make some adjustments so that our actions moving forward will align with what has been tackled in the seminar)
Prior training sessions introduced the fundamentals of Agribusiness to women farmers. Over 500 members of a women-led agri-commodity association were given modules on food quality, safety standards, financial management and marketing. Some of these women process raw calamansi into calamansi juice puree and extract, while others produce coconut oil, banana chips, among others.
“Tinuruan kami kung paano makipag-ugnayan sa mga store para maibenta yung aming mga produkto. Malaking tulong po iyon,” Visca said.
(We were taught how to approach retail store proprietors who can sell our products. That’s a big help to us.)
“Empowering women smallholder farmers, and converting them as agri-preneurs is one of the priorities of our project intervention”, said Mr. Juhern Kim, Country Representative, GGGI Philippines.
Despite being highly vulnerable to the adverse climate change impacts, these empowered Filipino women farmers become more financially independent as their incomes increase and their families enjoy a better quality of life.