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Empowering the entrepreneurial skills of women vegetable growers through farmer business school

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Vegetable growing is a promising enterprise but production is dominated mostly by men. Women are involved merely in the marketing of the produce without considering the business aspect. Thus, there is a need to empower women vegetable growers to harness the best of them in terms of their production and entrepreneurial capabilities. The study was undertaken todetermine the personal and growing characteristics of FBS participants, assess their knowledge on vegetable growing as a business and determine their concurrence that participation in FBS improved their skills on vegetable growing as a business. The study utilized 111 women participants who are dominated by 50 years old, married, high school graduates with five household members and earned a monthly income of below PhP5,000.00. Their vegetable cultivation experience were averaged of 12.34 years and their averaged farm size were about 3,000 square meters. The most common grown vegetable included the ingredients used in “pinakbet” Filipino delicacy, which are grown at least 1.5 times a year. They owned the lands they had used for vegetable growing and retailed their produce. The conduct of FBS generally improved the knowledge and skills of the participants on vegetable growing as a business. The conduct also was affected with climate-related problems, conflicted with participant’s farm work, absenteeism and drop-out. Incentives were given to control such. Scaling-up program may further be developed to reach out to a greater number of women farmers in the province.
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International Journal of Agricultural Technology 2021Vol. 17(3):991-1000
Available online http://www.ijat-aatsea.com
ISSN 2630-0192 (Online)
Empowering the entrepreneurial skills of women vegetable
growers through farmer business school
Naval, R. C.
*
, Carig, E. T., Dolojan, F. M., Julian, B. S. and Ngabit, J. B. A.
B.
College of Agriculture, Forestry and Engineering, Quirino State University, Diffun, Quirino,
Philippines.
Naval, R. C., Carig, E. T., Dolojan, F. M., Julian, B. S. and Ngabit, J. B. A. B. (2021).
Empowering the entrepreneurial skills of women vegetable growers through farmer business
school. International Journal of Agricultural Technology 17(3):991-1000.
Abstract Vegetable growing is a promising enterprise but production is dominated mostly by
men. Women are involved merely in the marketing of the produce without considering the
business aspect. Thus, there is a need to empower women vegetable growers to harness the best
of them in terms of their production and entrepreneurial capabilities. The study was undertaken
todetermine the personal and growing characteristics of FBS participants, assess their
knowledge on vegetable growing as a business and determine their concurrence that
participation in FBS improved their skills on vegetable growing as a business. The study
utilized 111 women participants who are dominated by 50 years old, married, high school
graduates with five household members and earned a monthly income of below PhP5,000.00.
Their vegetable cultivation experience were averaged of 12.34 years and their averaged farm
size were about 3,000 square meters. The most common grown vegetable included the
ingredients used in “pinakbet” Filipino delicacy, which are grown at least 1.5 times a year.
They owned the lands they had used for vegetable growing and retailed their produce. The
conduct of FBS generally improved the knowledge and skills of the participants on vegetable
growing as a business. The conduct also was affected with climate-related problems, conflicted
with participant’s farm work, absenteeism and drop-out. Incentives were given to control such.
Scaling-up program may further be developed to reach out to a greater number of women
farmers in the province.
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Agricultural production
Introduction
Women’s role in agricultural production and food security cannot be
underestimated. Women accounted for about 43% of the world's labor force
and supplied more than half of the world's food (Doss, 2014; FAO, 2011b).
Despite their contribution to agriculture, however, because of patriarchal
policies, attitudes and traditions, women are still often deprived and access to
livelihoods is withdrawn. There is an urgent need then, according to Doss et al.
*
Corresponding Author: Naval, R. C.; Email: rey.naval@qsu.edu.ph
992
(2018) to guide policies towards women farmers in order to unveil their
significant role in agriculture.
Empowerment in agriculture is generally characterized as one's ability to
take decisions on matters relating to agriculture and one's access to the material
and social resources necessary to make those decisions (Alkire et al., 2013).
According to Akter et al. (2017), women's empowerment in agriculture is seen
as important in achieving global food stability. Empowerment has a direct
impact in terms of agricultural production, food security and nutrition within
the household (Sraboni et al., 2014; Harper et al., 2013; Verhart et al., 2015).
Patel (2012) further emphasized that empowerment gives small farmers the
ability to control the production of food and to produce their own food.
With the above premise, Schreinemachers et al. (2018) recommended
prioritizing smallholder farmers' investment in vegetables because it needs only
small amounts of land, but in a relatively short period of time offers increased
economic opportunities. It also provides employment opportunities in poor
rural areas, especially for women (Everaarts et al., 2015).
In Quirino Province, most of the women farmers do not practice
vegetable growing as a business. They just plant vegetable mostly for home
consumption and sell the surplus to generate extra income for the family. As
such, they do not practice record keeping of their expenses incurred during land
preparation; purchase of seedlings, fertilizer and pesticide application,
harvesting and hauling. They don’t have either record of sales of their produce.
There is a need then to empower these women to harness the fullest potential
vegetable growing may bring by exposing them to agricultural
entrepreneurship. According to Pindado and Sanchez (2017), agricultural
operation provides entrepreneurial opportunities, such as production of new
goods, advances in business processes and changes in distribution and
marketing. However, entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector is a dynamic
activity and faces sudden changes and new challenges emerging from the
aspects of supply and demand, low levels of human and financial resources,
relatively limited markets and weak connectivity as most of the people involved
come from the rural areas (Mcelwee, 2006; Gellynck et al., 2015; Korsgaard et
al., 2015). Because of this complexity, the direct environment of agricultural
holdings, the family farm enterprise and the role of women in the new
established farm sector must then be taken into account (Lans et al., 2017).
Many researchers accentuate the essential effects of the entrepreneurial
activities of farmers in the communities. Education and training was reported
by Dias et al. (2019) to have a positive effect on the conduct of
entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector. Quirino State University (QSU) has
always been at the forefront capacitating farmers in Quirino Province. One of
International Journal of Agricultural Technology 2021Vol. 17(3):991-1000
993
the most recent projects it has implemented is titled “Capacitating Farmers on
Integrated Pest Management and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Rural
Development” which was funded by the Commission on Higher Education
through its National Agriculture and Fisheries Education System (CHED-
NAFES) Extension Program. The general objective of the project was to ensure
sustainable agricultural development by building the capacity of small-scale
farmers on Community Integrated Pest Management and Entrepreneurship. To
realize this objective, one of the project activities was the conduct of Farmer
Business School (FBS) in selected barangays in the province to help women on
vegetable growing and possible entrepreneurial activities out of it. The study
was undertaken todetermine the personal and growing characteristics of FBS
participants, assess their knowledge on vegetable growing as a business and
determine their concurrence that participation in FBS improved their skills on
vegetable growing as a business. Issues and problems affecting the conduct of
FBS were also noted.
Materials and methods
FBS is undertaken “to help farmers learn how to make their growing
enterprises and overall farm operations profitable and able to respond to market
demands” (FAO, 2011a). For this project, the FBS was focused on building the
entrepreneurial capacities of women including their children so that they will
become innovative and forward-looking. By building their capacities, they will
be able take advantage of opportunities in the market and this in the long run
will lead to sustainable businesses.
To operationalize the FBS, project staff facilitated the selection of project
sites, farmer-cooperators and participants in coordination with the Municipal
Agriculture Office (MAO) of the different municipalities and barangay local
government units (BLGU). MAO selected the project sites and farmer-
cooperators while the BLGU selected the participants. Farmer-cooperators refer
to the woman vegetable grower who led the participants for the different
activities from land preparation until harvesting and processing of produce.
Their farms were used as well as demonstration sites for the vegetable growing
activities and until the FBS (lectures and on-site tutoring) was completed.
Participants, on the other hand, refer to the women vegetable growers who
undergone FBS but no counterpart farms used for demonstration purposes.
A total of six barangays, one per municipality, were selected as
demonstration sites. From these sites, farmer-cooperators were identified. One
of the criteria in the selection of farmer-cooperator includes the ownership of at
least 1,000 square meters of land which was used for the establishment of
vegetable garden and where the FBS took place. A Memorandum of Agreement
994
(MOA) between the six identified farmer-cooperators and the QSU was signed.
On the other hand, the selection of FBS participants were turned over to the
BLGU of the selected demonstration sites. Six MOAs with BLGUs were signed
for this purpose.
The MOA signed between the farmer-cooperator and QSU stipulates the
roles and responsibilities of both parties to ensure the success of the FBS and
the methodology which was followed during the conduct of FBS. QSU
provided farm inputs like seeds, fertilizers, gardening tools (sprinkler, hose,
pail, and drums among few) and training kit for the participants while the
farmer-cooperators provided land labor during the FBS period. The farmer-
cooperators are also responsible in the management and protection of vegetable
farms. All farm proceeds/income went to the farmer-cooperators.
The four-month FBS which ran from March to June 2018 include a half-
day lecture once a week followed by actual vegetable growing activities at the
demonstration/farmer-cooperators sites. The 111 participants were closely
coached and mentored on various topics including understanding the basic
concepts of entrepreneurship; vegetable growing as a business; understanding
market through actual survey; understanding enterprise profitability through
record keeping; components of business plan; and benchmarking through field
visitation. The participants were also brought to public market to conduct
market survey to help them identify commodities that has high price and
demand so they could incorporate these in succeeding cropping periods. Aside
from lectures, participants were also mentored on the preparation of organic
foliar fertilizers like fermented fruit juice which they used in their
demonstration farms.
Data collection and analysis
The instrument to gather data from the participants was personally
developed by the authors. It underwent expert validity. Suggestions and
recommendations are made by the expert which incorporated before it was
utilized. It determined the change on the knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSA)
of the participants before and after the conduct of the FBS. Data gathered were
analyzed using frequency count and percentage, mean and paired t-test.
Results
Personal and growing characteristics of the participants
The frequency and percent distribution of participants to the FBS as to
personal profile is shown in Table 1. Majority of the 111 women participants
are dominated by 41-60 years old age bracket and the mean age was 50 years
International Journal of Agricultural Technology 2021Vol. 17(3):991-1000
995
old. Majority of the participants are married and high school graduates. The
average household member was five. They had earned a minimal monthly
income below PhP5,000.00.
In terms of their growing characteristics, results showed that majority of
the participants were within the 1-10 years growing experience bracket. The
mean vegetable cultivation experience was 12.34 years. Majority of the
participants had .01-.5 hectares of farms, but the average farm size was about
3,200 square meters.
The participants grew a number of vegetables but the most common
include the vegetables used in a Filipino delicacy “pinakbet” like string beans,
eggplant, squash, bitter gourd, okra, green pepper and tomato. These vegetables
are grown at least 1.5 times a year. In general, the lands used for vegetable
growing are owned by the participants. Participants grew vegetables for sale.
Majority of them retailed their produce house to house.
Table 1. Socio-demographic and Vegetable Growing Characteristics of
Participants
Profile
Number/Percentage
Age (average)
50.07
Married
89.62%
High school graduate
28.96%
Household size
4.56
Monthly income (average in Philippine peso)
3,361.15
Land ownership
Owned
71.58%
Rented
28.42%
Farm size (average in square meters)
3,200
Years in vegetable growing (average)
12.34
Cropping per year (average)
1.52
Vegetables grown (common)
String beans (Vigna unguiculata)
67.21%
Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
60.11%
Squash (Cucurbita maxima)
49.18%
Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia)
45.36%
Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus)
37.16%
Green pepper(Capsicum annuum)
35.52%
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)
26.78%
Mode of selling vegetables
Retail only
68.31%
Wholesale only
18.03%
Wholesale and retail
13.66%
Knowledge of participants on vegetable growing as a business
The summary on the knowledge of women participants on vegetable
growing as a business before and after the conduct of the FBS is shown in
Table 2. The test for difference done on the knowledge of women on vegetable
996
growing as a business before and after the conduct of FBS is shown in Table 2.
Statements presented to the participants revolved around seed quality, vegetable
production for cash, recording of income and expenditure, credit, importance of
marketing, value adding, storing, group buying, competitors, and demand and
prices. The results revealed that participants have high knowledge on almost all
statements except for items 2 and 7 which is very low. However, after their
participation in the FBS, their knowledge on the matter has improved. The p-
values for the majority of the statements showed that there were significant
increased in the knowledge of women after undergoing the FBS.
Table 2. Knowledge of Women on Vegetable Growing as a Business before
and after the Conduct of FBS
Statements
MPS
p-
value
Before
FBS
After
FBS
1. Quality seeds are important in getting higher
yield.
96.95
100.00
.025
2. A farmer is engaged in a farm business if he
focuses more on producing for cash rather than
for food.
40.24
95.12
.000
3. It is always better in a farm business to keep a
record of all expenses and income to keep track
of profit and losses.
96.34
100.00
.014
4. If credit is not well-utilized, it could result in
debt and hardship.
89.02
97.56
.002
5. Marketing is necessary in establishing
vegetable growing as a business.
93.90
100.00
.001
6. Adding a value or processing the vegetable
(fermented mustard) will increase profit.
93.29
98.17
.011
7. Storing products is important to extend the
availability of produce over a longer period
than if it were sold immediately after harvest.
75.00
96.95
.000
8. Group buying is important because it increases
bargaining power, lowers transaction costs and
improves prices.
92.07
98.17
.012
9. It is important to know who the competitors in
the market are.
94.51
98.17
.083
10. Farmers should know which vegetable
products have high demand in the market
including their prices and schedules.
98.78
100.00
.158
p-value of .05 and below are significant and above .05 are not significant
Concurrence of participants on the improvement of their skills after the FBS
The summary of data on the agreement of participants on vegetable
growing as a business before and after the conduct of FBS is presented in Table
3. Of the 10 statements, participants “agree” on at least four statements and
International Journal of Agricultural Technology 2021Vol. 17(3):991-1000
997
“strongly agree” after the conduct of FBS. Their agreement to the 10 statements
presented to them changed to “strongly agree” after the conduct of the FBS. In
general, all of the statements had p-values lower than the level 0.05 which
denoted significant difference on the initial and final agreements of the
participants.
Table 3. Agreement of Participants on Vegetable Growing as a Business before
and after the Conduct of FBS
Statement
Initial
Agreement
Final
Agreement
t-
computed
p-value
1. Vegetable growing is a profitable
business.
3.48
3.98
6.690
.000
2. Collective growing is better than
individual growing.
3.01
3.79
8.037
.000
3. Small-scale farmers can also become
successful entrepreneurs through
vegetable growing.
3.32
3.64
3.746
.000
4. It is easy to maintain farm records
3.20
3.91
8.466
.000
5. Post-harvest facilities are important in
vegetable growing.
3.22
3.90
8.027
.000
6. Value-adding or processing of harvest
could add profit.
3.35
3.90
6.714
.000
7. Having a permanent market is important
in vegetable growing.
3.46
3.92
6.216
.000
8. Marketing produce wholesale is better
than retail.
3.16
3.91
9.276
.000
9. Competition always exists during
marketing of produce.
3.29
3.93
7.998
.000
10. Wholesale is always better than retail.
3.35
3.87
6.305
.000
Legend: 3.26-4.00 Strongly Agree (SA)
2.51-3.25 Agree (A)
1.76-2.50 Disagree (D)
1.00-1.75 Strongly Disagree (SD)
p-value of .05 and below are significant while above .05 are not significant
Issues and problems affecting the conduct of FBS
During the conduct of FBS, issues and problems were encountered by
project staff. Among these problems were the prolonged dry season, farm work,
absenteeism and drop-outs. The prolonged dry season affected the schedule of
farm activities which temporarily held in abeyance until the weather conditions
became favorable. FBS participants had their own farms, a number of them
were not able to complete the different FBS modules, they became busy with
farm works, as a result, the absences were observed and some were dropped
from the FBS after incurring three absences.
998
Discussion
Majority of the 111 participants are dominated by 50 years old, married,
high school graduates with five household members and monthly income was
below PhP5,000.00. The mean vegetable cultivation experience was 12.34
years; average farm size was about 3,000 square meters. This information
revealed that women are highly involved in vegetable farming and/or gardening
in rural areas like the Province of Quirino. Women were involved starting from
the selection of seeds up to marketing of produce. They also did management
and protection activities in between.The strong involvement of women in
vegetable growing was also noted by Rahman et al. (2020) in their study who
found that women play an important role in farming and are increasingly
involved in managing farms. In the same way, Boza et al. (2020) found almost
the same age range that is 53.3 years old for vegetable growers in Chile.
Vegetable growing was done by smallholder farmers. Smallholder in the
sense, that vegetable growers still generally lack business skills, market
knowledge and political empowerment (Shepherd, 2007 cited in Batt & Le,
2010). Vegetable growers in the province only established vegetable gardens
that they can tend to save from labor and expenses. The results support the
findings of Marble and Fritzel (2014) who statesthat vegetables are produced
by smallholder farmers. However, the result of the studyshowing minimal
income from vegetable growing contradict the result of study made by Navjot
and Poonam (2017) in Punjab, India, who found that smallhold farmers were
more into vegetable farming and whose farm income per acre is generally
higher.
In terms of improving the knowledgeof participants on vegetable growing
as a business, the conduct of FBS showed positive improvement on the
knowledge and skills of participants on various aspects. This is so because the
FBS covered a wide array of topics which were discussed to the participants
over the course of FBS. This implies that FBS was a good tool in enhancing the
knowledge of women participants on vegetable growing since training modules
covered seed selection up to marketing of farm produce. This result affirmed
that conducting FBS is a good strategy to motivate farmers to venture on
vegetable farming as a business. This conforms to the study conducted by
Chilemba and Ragasa (2018) in Central Malawi where they found that
participation in FBS have impact on crop income and production of farmers
who participate in such activity.
The agreement of women on vegetable growing as a business basically
improved after the conduct of FBS. The changed in appreciation of women on
vegetable growing as a business may have been influenced by the different
lectures and on-site tutoring conducted, and even exposure in real-market
International Journal of Agricultural Technology 2021Vol. 17(3):991-1000
999
conditions, during the conduct of FBS. This result implies that the conduct of
FBS further improved the agreement of participants to the different statements
presented to them after the conduct of FBS. This also indicates that FBS is a
good strategy in enhancing women’s agreement to venture on vegetable
growing as a business. Thorms to the idea of Reyes (2020) ho said that to
promote agribusiness entrepreneurship, initiative should be focused on those
who have the desire to go into agribusiness, so that the possibility of putting up
agribusiness would be higher than before.
Although the FBS was seen as an effective tool, aside from environment-
related issues and problems, abseentism and drop-outs among the participants
were recorded. As such incentives were provided in the form of farm inputs and
tools. Those who were able to complete the whole FBS participated in a
learning visit at Nature Costales Farm - an organic farm at Majayjay, Laguna,
Philippines to observe the processes done from growing up to post-growing.
The provision of incentives to the participants eventually improved the
attendance and participation in the FBS.
Continuous mentoring and coaching and close monitoring should be done
to these women vegetable growers by the project staff to ensure the
sustainability of the project.
Acknowledgements
The authors are grateful to the Commission on Higher Education of the Republic of the
Philippines for funding the study. The cooperation of women vegetable growers is also highly
appreciated.
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