Untapped force in agriculture: Housewives gone fishing | Inquirer News

Untapped force in agriculture: Housewives gone fishing

Some women from the coastal town of Cagangohan, Panabo, Davao del Norte have stopped waiting for their husbands to return from the sea with their catch. Instead, they have decided to head out to the waters themselves and fish.

To 20 housewives who have formed the Cagangohan Women’s Association (CWA), the first all-women fishers’ organization in the country, there’s truth in the old Chinese proverb, with a little twist: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach the housewives to fish and you feed them and make profitable businesswomen out of them.”

Rose Alicaba, president of CWA, said the group started in 2010, when the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) trained some housewives of Cagangohan to process milkfish or bangus from their two cages in the Panabo City Mariculture Park, a 1,075-hectare marine farm established in the municipal waters of Panabo in 2006.



Deboning fish

Alicaba, a 33-year old mother of two, said BFAR’s livelihood program gave them their own fish cages and taught them how to feed and maintain bangus fingerlings. They were also given training on how to process and debone the fish they have harvested.

“We start the day by going to the sea and feeding the fishes,” she said. “Some of our husbands come with us because most of us do not know how to swim.”

The CWA members, some of them in their 40s and 50s, rotate the jobs among themselves. While others go out by pairs to feed the fishes twice a day, others process the catch for bottling and deboning at a BFAR facility or tend the group’s pasalubong center.

Alicaba said she earns around P300 per day from processing bangus into bottled products.

Alicaba credited their success to the women’s diligence and hard work. “If BFAR has training sessions, we attend. If there is an exhibit for our products, we go. We have learned how to talk to people, how to give sales talk. It has made us more confident,” she said.


Growth driver

The success of CWA is proof that women in rural areas are an untapped force in agriculture, a growth driver in the Philippines.

The United Nations said studies suggest that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent, lifting 100 to 150 million out of hunger.

Equal access to resources will raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 percent, thereby contributing to both food security and economic growth, the UN added.

In his speech to mark Women’s Day, Michelle Bachelet, executive director of UN Women, said rural women and girls comprise one in four people worldwide. Although they carry heavy workload in the agriculture sector, they do not have the same access to land, credit and rights as men, robbing them of their potential to contribute significantly in development.

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“Providing women farmers with equal access to resources would result in 100 to 150 million fewer hungry people. Providing women with income, land rights and credit would mean fewer malnourished children. Studies show that higher levels of gender equality correlate positively with higher levels of per capita gross national product. Opening economic opportunities to women would significantly raise economic growth and reduce poverty,” Bachelet said.

TAGS: Agriculture, Fisheries, Women

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