Songco women biyahidors in Loverslane Market: Self-empowerment through micro vegetable entrepreneurship
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SANREM CRSP, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
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Studies have shown that rural women in developing tropical countries continue to suffer from many gender-based inequalities and world trade policies that adversely affect their rights and control over natural and productive resources as well as their access to educational or training opportunities, agricultural services, technologies, and markets (Chiong-Javier 2006, Derrien 2004, Oliveros 1997). These women are thus not only hindered from realizing their fundamental role of providing food security and staving off poverty for their families, but also from addressing their overall personal wellbeing. Agricultural or farm women often have meager options for addressing their most basic concerns. However, for an increasing number of them, the most viable option for breaking away from some measure of marginalization and ensuring their family’s continued survival is to enter the domestic sphere of micro agricultural marketing (Garcia 2004, PPI 2004).
The subjects of this case study have demonstrated the viability of such an option. They constitute a group of six women biyahidors from Songco, an upland barangay lying on the base of Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park that is part of Lantapan Municipality in Northern Mindanao, Philippines. In this village, biyahidor is the term used to denote a person who engages in the business of buying-and-selling vegetables. Based on the volume of trade or business, there are two classes of biyahidors: (1) large-scale biyahidors who usually transport their goods to far-away markets and transact business through bodegas (literally, warehouses, but which are market stalls with a warehousing function and serving as outlets for mainly non-local wholesale buyers), and (2) small-scale biyahidors who tend to bring their goods to nearby markets for sale to other small traders or vendors and household consumers. In General, the biyahidors of Songco are engaged in micro trading and vending enterprises, hence they belong to the second category. Most of these micro entrepreneurs are coincidentally women.