Empowering the women farmers of Batangan
In Barangay Batangan, Bubong Lanao del sur, a group of women farmers led by Amerah Manapar established Batangan Farmer Workers’ Association.
In Barangay Batangan, Bubong Lanao del sur, a group of women farmers led by Amerah Manapar established Batangan Farmer Workers’ Association. This group is mainly engaged in Sakurab (scallion) farming and palapa (a M’ranao spicy side dish) production, although some members also cultivated other crops like ginger and chili, two important ingredients (along with sakurab), in making palapa.
To market their products, the group decided to have a vegetable stand in their community where their harvest and packaged palapa could be displayed for sale. They also participated in several local market display events in Marawi City to popularize their products. In 2017, the group became a regular palapa supplier to their partner organizations and patronizing buyers.
Since its establishment in 2014, the association has always received support from Al Mujaadila Women’s Association (AMWA). In fact, when the group started their palapaproduction, AMWA in partnership with Oxfam Pilipinas, provided a grinding machine for the efficient operation and quality output of their palapa production.
AMWA also helped in capacitating members of the association through its awareness-raising programs, trainings, and seminars, which include, among others, training on business management and bookkeeping that profoundly benefited the group in managing their palapaenterprise.
In addition, exposure – field trips organized by AMWA gave the group an opportunity to observe and be inspired by the efficient manufacturing and production process practiced by companies and farms they visited in several places in Mindanao.
However, in 2017 the association started encountering challenges brought about by the Marawi siege, the COVID-19 pandemic, and frequent floods that often destroyed their farms and crops. Because of those fortuitous events, they suffered major setbacks in their operation. But instead of giving up, they looked for ways to cope and bounce back.
The association is now gradually recovering. To increase the group’s income, Manapar planned to expand their production to include chili powder and vermin compost, an organic fertilizer. She was also keen on learning better methods of preserving and packaging their products so that they could attract more buyers and increase their market.
“Being involved seriously in the group’s livelihood activities made me discover my potentials and skills to work and earn, and be of help financially to my family,” Manapar exclaimed.
This realization boosted her confidence and trust in herself. Manapar said women’s leadership and participation in livelihood activities would improve the family’s economic stability and increase women’s agency and overall empowerment.
“Do not give up. Finding ways to address the problems is the only remedy to those challenges. Always trust Allah,” Manapar added.”
WOMEN’S JOURNEY TO ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
Al Mujaadila Women’s Association, Inc. (AMWA) is a non-profit and non-government organization composed of women who are committed to promote women’s human rights and condemn practices that violate these rights and acts that demean their worth and status as women.
It is an advocacy-driven organization that continuously engages in activities that include organizing workshops, seminars, and trainings designed to raise the awareness of women about their basic rights and other women’s issues. It has also been involved in community organizing to help develop self-reliant and empowered communities.
For the implementation of its projects and programs, AMWA relies on funding support from national and international agencies and foundations such as: Oxfam Pilipinas, Government of Australia, Government of Canada, The Asia Foundation, Ford Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), among others.
One of its recent projects funded by the Government of Australia through Oxfam Pilipinas is the Women Empowerment on Leadership and Development (WELD), which includes publishing stories of economically empowered women from its partner communities in different areas of Lanao Del Sur.
The journey of the women whose stories of economic empowerment are featured in this publication is closely monitored by AMWA. The latter has been a constant witness to the progress of the associations these women currently lead – from their faltering beginnings triggered by doubts and uncertainties to their present stable status that is occasionally threatened by issues from within and problems from outside like the Marawi siege in 2017 (2017), the Covid-19 pandemic (2020), and other climate-induced disasters. But in the face of these challenges, they stood firm. Undeterred by the temporary setback, they chose to rise than give up. The courageous disposition they demonstrated in times of crisis is undoubtedly a distinct badge of their commitment and empowerment.
Writer: Atty. Norma A. Maruhom | Co-writer: Dr. Raima S. Dimaampao