By Patricia B. Mirasol, reporter 

Grow Asia, an agriculture development platform, launched on Aug. 22 a $1.6 million impact fund to support women who are working in Asia’s food system. It incentivizes public and private investment into gender-inclusive practices and policies, particularly for small rural enterprises.  

As the fund’s anchor partners, the Government of Canada — through the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) — and Corteva Agriscience are donating $800,000 each.  

“The fund will promote equal opportunities for women within the food value chain, helping them succeed, and in turn, enhance the Philippines’ agricultural sector,” said Amy Melissa Chua, country director of the Philippines Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (PPSA), Grow Asia’s Philippine chapter.  

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., has emphasized his intention to restructure the food value chain from research and development to retail, as well as offer support to those who require government assistance, Ms. Chua said in a Sept. 1 e-mail.  

“This is where the PPSA will be working with the government, especially as we’re also focused on promoting inclusive, sustainable, and climate-resilient agriculture value chains,” she added.  

Programs under the multi-donor impact fund include: 

• AGREE (ASEAN Green Recovery through Equity and Empowerment) — an initiative supported by the International Development Research Centre in Cambodia, the Philippines, and Vietnam to demonstrate how COVID-19 recovery can be gender- and climate-responsive.  

 GrowHer  — a community-based platform that connects women to learning events, essential resources, and best-practice sharing from other women agripreneurs.  

• THRIVE (Train Her to Promote Resilient, Inclusive Value Chains and Economic Empowerment) — a joint initiative between Grow Asia and Corteva Agriscience launched to increase women farmers’ farm management and support them with business development and networking opportunities.  

Over the next three years, Grow Asia aims to raise $5.6 million through the fund. It will also launch three complementary multi-donor impact funds to support parallel activities that promote agri-food innovation, responsible agricultural investing, and climate change adaptation and resilience in the region.   

This collaboration is “an important step in addressing the needs within Asia’s food system,” said Ravinder Balain, managing director for ASEAN at Corteva Agriscience, in an Aug. 22 press statement.  

“By uniting our efforts with partners like IDRC and Grow Asia, we can drive lasting positive outcomes for women across the agricultural value chain,” he added.  

In a separate Aug. 26 video on sustainable rural development produced by Sweden-based development organization We Effect, Ma. Clara Dullas, a woman leader and farmer from the Dumagat-Remontado tribe, explained her relationship to the land she works: “Parang buhay din ang pagmamahal namin sa lupa dahil ito ang aming pinagkukunan at ikinabubuhay para sa aming pamilya … Dito kami umaasa talaga [We love the land like we love life, because it is how we feed our families … We really rely on it for our livelihood].” 

A 2016 study, “Women at Work in the Farm,” found that despite equal work, women farmers in Quezon and Zamboanga del Norte earn less than their male counterparts by about P108 a day.  

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture and Fisheries, released this August by the Philippine Statistics Authority, there were 4,649,413 and 907,692 male and female agricultural operators in the country, respectively.