Women in the Philippines Play Increasing Roles in Rice Farming


A study conducted by the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) shows that women are playing increasing roles in rice farming activities.

The study entitled “Enhancing Gender Outcomes of Different Rice-Related Agencies through Gender Analysis of Rice Supply Chain and Advocacies” looked deeper into the role of women in the Philippines’ rice supply chain as it aimed to continuously enhance the Gender and Development (GAD) plans, budgeting and utilization of rice-related agencies.

Results showed that women are more engaged than men in capital and seed sourcing during pre-production. The study added that although more men are sourcing labor, half of the women respondents also do this work. “In the production segment where most activities are assigned to men, more women participate in transplanting, while weeding is equally done by men and women,” the study said.

PCAF added that intercropping with rice and other non-farm incomes are overwhelmingly female roles. “Postproduction activities like palay drying, milling, and marketing are also dominated by women. Despite the significant role women play in the development of the agriculture sector, they have long been disadvantaged in terms of ownership and control of productive assets. Thus, a gender gap continues to plague the sector, even extending to access to agricultural training and education,” it said.

The study noted two barriers to women’s full participation in agriculture — the limited registration on the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) and unpaid domestic work.

The PCAF study was a joint undertaking of the Rice Watch Action Network (RWAN), a social enterprise network and CSO-accredited implementing partner of the Department of Agriculture for its programs and projects.

RWAN Executive Director Hazel Tanchuling, who also serves as chairman of PCAF’s National Banner Program Committee on Rice, lamented the policy that limits the registration of farmers per household based on the number of land parcels tilled.

Tanchuling said the study examined the data from the RSBSA as of October 2021, and it revealed that 41.7% of women are registered out of 4.9 million farmers, farmworkers, agri-youth, and fisherfolk.

“If a family tills only one land parcel, only one member of the household can be registered as a farmer, and the rest are tagged as farm workers. Often, only the male is registered as a farmer, being almost always considered the head of the household, even if by definition, there is nothing that precludes the rest of the household members from being registered as farmers,” Tanchuling said.

The study also highlights women’s primary concern on securing land title and ownership. The husband, as the traditional head of the family, is given priority when applying for land titles, Tanchuling said.

According to Tanchuling, official data might not accurately capture women’s work in agriculture as it is typically considered an extension of their household tasks, as these tasks are not reported as “work.” The study recommended that the government continue creating programs that empower women.

Tanchuling said the government also needs to increase women’s recognition in RSBSA registration and address the industry’s lack of gender-disaggregated information. The government should increase the number of women beneficiaries in agriculture programs and boost women’s participation in the consultation process of the agencies.

“The guidelines and procedures for the registration of farmers should be revised to ensure that more women farmers are recognized. It is recommended to redesign agriculture training and policy discussions to be more community-based and rotated in the different communities to increase the participation of more home-bound women,” Tanchuling added.

PCAF officer in charge Executive Director Julieta Opulencia vowed to include women in all aspects of agri-fishery decision-making processes and to find innovative solutions to empower them.

Opulencia said that the agency recognizes that women are one of the economic backbones of the rice industry and are critical in the sector’s development, particularly in handling the finances of rice-producing households.

“In PCAF, women can take on leadership roles through our Agricultural and Fishery Councils, challenge the system, and call for better policies that would benefit the rice sector and the entire industry,” she said.