WOMEN farmers must be part of the decision-making process throughout the food value chain, including the choice and use of quality crop seeds.
This was stressed by Agriculture Secretary William Dar as he recognized the major role of women in the Philippine agriculture.
Dar assured that his department will push for a stronger, gender-inclusive seed system to further boost food production and farmers’ incomes.
“Under the Duterte administration, the DA will continue to empower women farmers, being indispensable partners of their farmer-husbands, brothers, or sons. Together, they form our formidable food security army,” Dar said during a recently-held webinar titled “The role of women in developing a climate-smart seed system in the Philippines,” organized by the Philippine International Potato Center.
Dar explained that one of the foundations of food security is an effective seed system.
“Related to this, the DA in partnership with the private sector, particularly the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), will establish a National Seed Technology Park (NSTP), at the New Clark Green City, in Tarlac,” Dar added.
He disclosed that the partnership aims to bring major seed industry stakeholders — including women farmers, entrepreneurs, and local government officials — to be part of the country’s first-ever seed technopark.
“We have set aside an initial budget of P200 million to establish the facility, which is expected to help boost the country’s food security via sustained production of affordable, quality, pest-resistant, high-yield, and climate-resilient seeds,” he added.
Meanwhile, during the webinar, Dar was joined by two other DA officials: Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Assistant Director Rosana Mula; and Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) Director Jocelyn Badiola. They presented the DA policy and credit support for a gender-inclusive seed system, respectively.
Mula said that since the DA has implemented the gender and development (GAD) policy, they have been adhering to gender inclusiveness.
"This entails empowering rural women and providing them equal opportunities and benefits, in terms of DA technical assistance and interventions, similar to their male counterparts," Mula said.
Badiola, on the other hand, said that aside from policy support, the DA has also been providing financial assistance to agri-fishery industry players, including women farmers.
In fact, she said that the DA-ACPC is set to launch an exclusive credit program, called “Financial Assistance for Women in Agriculture and Fisheries” or “AgriPinay.”
Badiola explained that the progra, initially aims to address their loss of income and livelihood, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and amplify gender equality in agribusiness.
"Majority of our borrowers are women farmers and entrepreneurs, and it is interesting to note that they have been registering outstanding repayment rates, probably because women are naturally good financial managers, they are goal-oriented and nurturing," Badiola added.