In many stories about the farms and its management, the men dominate. They had the brawns to do physical labor. And they were the working members of many traditional families. Men in the farms and the offices was a common scenario, save for a few organizations. One of them is CIV CABEFAMCO, a rising cooperative of the Salug Valley Cluster in Zamboanga del Sur.
The Campo IV Carp Beneficiaries Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative (CIV CABEFAMCO) is a 29-year old organization first organized by the DAR for rice farmers in Barangay Campo IV in the town of Ramon Magsaysay. CIV CABEFAMCO is a primary cooperative that offers agricultural services to its members. These include production loan financing, micro lending, household water system, pre- and post-harvest facilities such as tractor, dryer, milling and warehousing.
Its long history has been peppered with years of losses and stagnancy, until 2016 when they were officially included in the cluster’s rice enterprise under the Project ConVERGE. The project, implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) through a loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), aims to upscale the quality and quantity of production in its covered areas through effective value chain. Campo IV was identified as an integrator or a rice producer set to sell their produce to MAFAMCO, its consolidator from the neighbouring town of Mahayag.
From here, trainings came left and right. Mechanized farming was achieved. More so, marketing agreements with multiple buyers and providers were sealed. Today, with its operations primarily in rice milling and marketing, Campo IV declared an increase of more than 30% in its production volume and around 73% in total value of milled rice traded.
But their business success is not the only thing that made them stand out. In Campo IV, women dominate. From leadership positions to farm labor, their women-members continue to hold significant ranks. At 251 women-members from a total of 412, the curious case is a happy one, but we can’t help but ask: why and how?
Rosevilla Salceda, manager of the said agrarian reform beneficiary organization, helped provide more context on their current count of women members, their roles in the farm and in the office, as well as her job as a chairwoman-turned-manager for the past three years now.
Can you tell us more about how you became the leader of the organization?
I was already a member and was into rice farming since 1992. But it was only in 2017 that I was approached to lead the board. I had other businesses, as I am our family’s breadwinner. I accepted and became the only woman in the board. Surprisingly, I was voted as chairperson. A year after that, I was chosen to be the manager of the organization.
How is it like to be the head of a family and the head of an organization at the same time?
Kung unsa ko mu manage sa household, ako pud gidala diri (I manage the group in the same way I manage the household). At three in the morning, I already start cooking for my karenderya business. By 8:00am, I am already in the office to start the day. I want the members to see that we take our work and commitments seriously. So I manage the time to meet the demands of a family and an organization.
We observed that Campo IV has more women than men members. Why is this so?
We’ve noticed in the past that wives are always in charge of attending meetings and activities because the husbands had to be left to do their jobs. More than that, we think it’s because we also offer livelihood projects for women like kaong-making and livestock.
And it was effective to encourage more women-members.
Yes. Because now, they have something to look forward to that they can learn and work on.
How about in farm labor?
Ah, yes. There are differences in their roles in the farm. But women are still active and have taken more responsibilities on the labor side. For one, farm maintenance is assigned to the women. Sauna nga wala pay harvester (before when there were no harvesters), the women handles the manual harvesting. Now, with their new harvester [from the project], women transitioned to dealing with transporting and monitoring the drying and processing of the palay.
In the organization, are women also elected or put in leadership and management positions like you?
Majority of our operations staff are women. We also have three members of the Board of Directors who are women. They are among the most detail-oriented workers. Kamao mubahig ug mulantaw asa ug unsay angayan ibutang. Kamao pud mubahin sa oras. (They know how to organize resources. They also know how to manage their time.)
Message to farmers:
Sa mga kababaihan, dili nato ipa ubos ang atong kaugalingon. Mangita tag kita aron naa tay ikasuporta sa atong pamilya. Gamiton nato atong kaugalingong skills aron makakita tag panginabuhi sa atong pamilya.
Kung wala ko katrabaho diri, dili ko makailis ug ensakto, permanente ra kong naa sa balay. Kinahanglan pud diay na ang babae ma-promote gyud sya. Mag apil ta sa mga grupo na angayan sa kababaihan aron makita nato na naay kusog ang isa ka babaye. Ang hunahuna sa uban huyang ang babaye pero dili diay. Kaya sa babae.
For the women-farmers, let us not settle for less. Let us look for means to support our families. We have skills to get a job and earn for our families, let us use that.
[Like for me], if I didn’t have this chance to work [in the ARBO], I will not be able to dress this way. I will be left doing nothing at home. It seems that what we need is to encourage women [into these responsibilities and tasks]. Women can join groups fitting for them, so that they can realize their potentials.
Other people think women are weak, but that’s not true. Women are capable.
By: Katrin Anne A. Arcala
*This interview is translated to English in most parts. The statements are also edited for coherence and brevity.