Benilda "Beedz" Reynido-Lagahit, 49 years old, from Mahabang Parang, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines, is an active local farmer technician (LFT) who teaches her fellow farmers to report Fall Armyworm (FAW). She gained this role during the FAW detection and management campaign of the Department of Agriculture. On top of her role as LFT, she is also an active village officer, a small-scale mixed-crop farmer, a partner, and a mother.
Her daily schedule
When asked about her usual daily routine, this is her response:
"I wake up at 5 AM to cook for my 10-year-old child. Before 7 AM, once my youngest is done with her breakfast and school preparations, I will feed our rabbits, pigs, chickens, and ducks. From 7 AM, I will attend to various village secretary duties, including issuing any requested village certifications. Usually, our village members will just arrive randomly at our home for these kinds of requests."
"If I don't have to visit the farm or if I don't have any appointment outside the home, I can then have my breakfast by 9 AM. From 10 AM to 5 PM, this is the time I do my LFT responsibilities and other village secretary duties. This means that I may need to go out in the field to teach my co-farmers if there's a call for help from them; I report to Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC) - Mimaropa to report FAW incidences if there's a need, and I go to local agricultural offices to assist my co-farmers in claiming in-kind farming assistance. I don't have nap time because any visits or calls from village and farming clients may happen anytime."
"By 5 PM, I make sure that I am at home to feed our livestock again, and then at 6 PM, I will prepare food for my husband and children. Once dinner and dishwashing are done at around 7 PM, I sleep and rest."
Beedz says she feels rewarded and satisfied with her community and family contributions, especially when working on the family farm.
Her enjoyment and roles in farming
"I really love every step of farming," she says, especially during harvest season when her three children join her and her husband on the farm. Their primary crops are rice, rambutan, lanzones, Philippine lime, and various vegetables.
Beedz is heavily engaged with many aspects of the farm,
"I'm involved in all of the steps. This includes soil preparation, creation of modified dapog, planting, irrigation, fertilizer application, weed control and monitoring, and pest management."
Even with all her effort and skill as a farmer, Beedz still needs help. When asked what her top three challenges were, she told us that geographical location, pests, and the high cost of farming inputs were tough elements of farming.
Her family's rice farm frequently experiences flooding during the rainy season, especially when there is a typhoon. This negatively affects her rice plants at the heading and flowering stages resulting in a substantial reduction in yield.
The second challenge is pests like FAW and the golden apple snails which, if not addressed, can lead to decreased or just 'breakeven' income affecting her ability to pay for her children's educational needs.
Beedz explains how her farming production improved after she attended pest management training provided by the municipal agricultural office and RCPC – Mimaropa. She proudly shares that she has not used any pesticides in their rice planting for four consecutive seasons of harvesting (2 years) because of the effectiveness of Trichoderma. She and her husband apply this before rice planting. Aside from Trichoderma, she also uses lures for maize and vegetable pests, traps for rice black bugs, and practices intercropping.
Lastly, the high cost of farming inputs like urea for fertilizer and crude oil for irrigation or water pumps can reduce their farming income.
"In 1ha, a farmer spends PhP 70-75K for all types of inputs, and because the market price of rice is low, it pulls down the potential farming income. Regarding irrigation, we were told that solar irrigation from the National Irrigation Administration is coming. It will greatly help us (women and men farmers) if we receive this."
Her dream as a farmer
To close the conversation, we asked Beedz about her dream as a woman farmer,
"I want to go abroad where the farming profession earns more. I want to experience how to operate farm machines that ease farming activities, and I want to own a bigger farm."
You can watch our interview with Beedz here.
We hope this blog sparks further discussion on the importance of the role of women farmers in integrated pest management and sustainable agriculture. The 2023 Women as IPM Leaders Webinar Series under the ASEAN FAW Action Plan starts soon!
Find out more information and join us by going to https://www.aseanfawaction.org/women-as-ipm-leaders
The ASEAN FAW Action Plan would like to thank the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their generous support of this programme.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marren Bonacua is an alumna of the University of the Philippines. She enjoys being involved in trade, food security, nutrition, and women's issues. Outside work, she gets in touch with nature and friends. Connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linked.com/in/gmbonacua or at firstname.lastname@example.org