‘Babaye, Ka-Agri’ exhibit features top WV rural women entrepreneurs

In observance of the 2022 National Women’s Month, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Western Visayas features the outstanding rural women farmers, agri-entrepreneurs, and women prime movers in the agri-fishery sector in a week-long exhibit dubbed as “Babaye, Ka-Agri” at SM City Iloilo.

DA Western Visayas Regional Executive Director Remelyn Recoter said the celebration seeks to recognize the efforts and contributions of rural women in the agriculture and fishery sector, which comprises 45.92 percent of the 831,921 encoded farmers and fishers in the government’s registry system.

“In the OneDA Reform Agenda of the agency, there is one strategy which focuses on women engagement under the pillar of professionalization. Women’s role in agriculture and fisheries is huge in terms of employment generation. The majority of the women who came here today are entrepreneurs wherein they generate employment within their community and contribute to the economic development, and ultimately will contribute to food security,” she said.

According to Recoter, as mandated by the law, five percent of the annual budget of any government agency is allotted for Gender and Development and women’s capacity enhancement programs. DA expands the provision of support on agribusiness, production, and postharvest facilities to women’s organizations and Rural Improvement Clubs, especially the nation faces a challenge on the aging population of farmers.

Meanwhile, DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) 6 Regional Director Remia Aparri said they had served both men and women fishermen in capture fisheries, aquaculture, postharvest, and training. At least 92,950 women fishers out of the 255,000 registered fisherfolk received interventions from the bureau last year.

Quote cards, agricultural commodities, and value-added products of the region’s outstanding rural women awardees from 2016 to 2021, including Lea Deala of Dingle, Iloilo; Elizabeth Sol of Leganes, Iloilo; Concepcion Carillo of Bingawan, Iloilo; Mely Galera of Belison, Antique; and Mercedita Cubar of Pototan, Iloilo are being featured in the exhibit which will run until March 6.

As a former OFW, Cubar, 68, inspires women attendees to go into  vegetable gardening and food production as she experienced the benefits of backyard gardening when COVID-19 peaked in their community last year. “I was able to provide free vegetables and crops to my neighbors who were quarantined.”

“I want to set an example to my fellow senior citizens nga indi lang sila magpungko, magtong-its, ukon mag mahjong para mag healthy man sanda parehas kanakon,” said Cubar, who shared her techniques to other community members in growing various vegetables, crops, and fruit-bearing trees in her 2,000 square meters backyard lot in Brgy. Dongsol, Pototan.

Apart from them, Sibalom Livestock and Poultry Raisers Association (SILPRA) president Elma Peña, Guimaras’ McNester Food Products owner and Magsasakang Siyentista Rebecca Tubongbanua, Philippine Carabao Center’s top dairy farmer Wilma Capillo, and BFAR’s outstanding fisherfolk –Riza Sioco of Libertad, Antique and Reynilda Partida of Carles, Iloilo—are also taking part in the six-day exhibit.

“We are culminating the six-year theme of the National Women’s Month—We Make Change Work for Women with this exhibit. With this year’s theme Agenda ng mga Kababaihan Tungo sa Kaunlaran, it is necessary to honor the valuable roles and contributions of featured women in the agricultural development,” said DA’s GAD Program Focal Person Carmelita Fantilanan.

She added that on March 21, newly hired DA employees would undergo an orientation on basic GAD concepts while the Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center and all research outreach stations regionwide will host the ‘Serbisyo Para Kay Juana’ by providing free lowland vegetable seeds, assorted planting materials, production guides, and IEC materials to rural women. Text by SMHToreno/ Photos by SMHToreno & JVDeGuzman/ DA-RAFIS 6