In Antique, Philippines, female officers are making a difference in their irrigation association (IA).
LAESCALIBAFE IA in Antique is a beneficiary of Rapid Food Production Enhancement Programme, which is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The IA started way back in 1970 with a ‘bayanihan’ to construct temporary brush dam and canals to deliver water to their farms.
Beginning 2009, the association has been dominated by female leaders starting from president to the auditor and some Board of Trustees. Moreover,almost half of the farmers, 114 of 243, are females.
“Women are more charismatic. We took advantage of that charisma to have an efficient IA, especially when dealing with farmers in the collection of irrigation fee,” President Elma Dela Cruz narrated.
LAESCALIBAFE, like any other IAs, relies on its collection of irrigation fee. In order for an IA to work and be operational, it has to collect from its members the ‘irrigation service fee’ in the form of rice cavan. Currently, their collection is considered to be efficient. If a farmer fails to pay, the president or the vice president herself collects the irrigation fee. Luckily, it works that way. The president is able to hear the reasons of the members and the farmers see the dedication of the leaders and in turn, do their duties and pay their dues.
“It was not easy in the beginning. But later on, we gain the members’ trust because they see the transparency and our dedication to the association,” the president added.
Moreover, because their collection is becoming more efficient and they are dominated with women, they were able to beautify their office through their artistry. Now, they renovated and added some woman’s touches like pictures and memorabilia of their IA.
More than just a job
The officers have day jobs but still manage to give time to the association. The president to secretary are given an honorarium of 400 pesos every monthly meeting and the Board ofTrustees, 100 pesos every meeting. The honorarium comes from the irrigation service fee.
Other awards to the association
The leader members are active in applying for membership in different associations. In return, the IA can have better access to new projects and trainings of the government and other organizations. In 2011, a mechanical dryer was awarded by the Department of Agriculture (DA) with counterpart from the provincial and municipal government. The association was also rewarded with many other programs such as the community-based composting facility composed of the vermi beds and the shredder machine to further produce vermicast as a source of organic fertilizer. In 2012, a hand tractor was also availed with IA counterpart. Moreover, in 2012, the government acknowledged the improvement and dedicationof LAESCALIBAFE by awarding them as the most outstanding IA in Visayas, Philippines.