Agriculture plays a significant role in the Philippine economy. Involving about 40 percent of Filipino workers, it contributes an average of 20 percent to the Gross Domestic Product. This output comes mainly from agribusiness, which in turn accounts for about 70 percent of the total agricultural output.
The main agricultural enterprise is crop cultivation. Others are chicken broiler production, including operation of chicken hatcheries (20.4 percent), agricultural services (19.8 percent), and hog farming (18.4 percent) (NSO, 2002).
The general trends in the last two decades present a dim picture of the agriculture sector. Significant decrease in productivity, high production costs, and low government support to the sector, among other things, have led to a crisis in Philippine agriculture (CIDA-LGSP, 2003).
The neglect of the agriculture sector and the uneven distribution of resources worsened the poverty situation in rural areas. Only the remittances of migrant workers to their families have enabled the latter to survive crippling poverty brought about by stagnant agricultural productivity, stiff competition from cheaper food imports, and periodic droughts and floods that devastated crops and livelihoods.
Bureau of Communication Services
Rural women undertake a variety of production and caring activities. Though not counted in official statistics, women are active economic actors such as landless workers, traders of agricultural and fishery products, and engaged in micro-manufacturing enterprises. Of the total rural work force, women comprised 27.3 percent of the 10.4 million workers employed in the agricultural, hunting and forestry sector in 2004 (NSO, 2004).
Women’s actual contribution to food production and rural economy remains undervalued if not invisible. As a result, women have less access to productive resources than men do. Access to land, technology, extension services, capital, and infrastructure support tend to favour rural men (WAGI, 2003).
Ownership of land remains elusive for many rural women. As per an assessment from January to September 2001, women comprised only 34.8 percent of total agrarian reform beneficiaries (Philippine NGO BPA+10 Report, 2005).
Major philippine agriculture systems include lowland irrigated farming, rainfed farming and upland farming. Irrigated farm areas mainly grow rice and sugarcane whereas rainfed areas are planted with coconut, corn and cassava. The Philippines’ major agricultural products include rice, coconuts, corn, sugarcane, bananas, pineapples, and mangoes.
Bureau of Communication Services
From 1999 to 2003, women’s participation was significant in planting/transplanting, manual weeding, care of crops and harvesting. Women were least involved in land preparation and furrowing. In palay farming, about 35 percent to 49 percent of the farming households hired women workers in pulling and bundling of seedlings, and in planting and harvesting activities. More women workers were also employed in corn (harvesting/husking, planting and transplanting and care of crops), and sugarcane farming (weeding and fertilizer application). Women workers were least employed in coconut farming, particularly in the removal of coconut meat (BAS, 2004).
The following chart describes the gender division of labour in rice production:
Gender division of labour in rice production
Women farmers toil with their male counterparts in most of the farm tasks, except for food preparation, which is usually undertaken by the women, and for ploughing with tractors, which is usually done by men. Rural women are also mostly responsible for accessing capital needed for farm production. Many of these women engage in off-farm activities that can help augment household income (PPI, 2002).
The Philippines’ total land area is 300 179 sq km, 49 percent of which is classified as forest (although only 21 percent is under forest cover) (EIU, 2001/2002). It directly supports approximately 30 percent of the population, including indigenous peoples. Three percent of the total land area is still unclassified (DENR, 2004).
With a per capita forest cover of about 0.085 ha, the forest cover of the Philippines ranks as one of the 11 poorest among 89 countries in the tropics. It declined from 70 percent of the total land area in 1900 to about 18.3 percent in 1999, or just over 5 million ha of residual and old-growt