Labour out migration on rice farming households and gender roles: synthesis of findings in Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam

by Thelma R. Paris, Joyce Luis and Donald Villanueva, Maria Fay Rola-Rubzen, Truong Thi Ngoc Chi, Chaicharn Wongsanum

This paper was presented at the FAO-IFAD-ILO Workshop on Gaps, trends and current research in gender dimensions of agricultural and rural employment: differentiated hthways out of poverty in Rome, Italy on 31 March – 2 April 2009


This research described the migration trends in three case study countries in Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam with regards to the effect on household labor allocation, agricultural outcomes and the use of remittances. Rapid rural appraisal (RRA), focus group discussions and surveys of farm households with and without migrants were conducted. The main objective of the paper is to draw correlations across migration and farming outcomes to then derive policy recommendations for action. Our findings reveal that remittances help ensure food security, reduce poverty, provide more children’s education, ease credit constraints in farming, pay for farm inputs and repay debts. Principal females in northeast Thailand continue to contribute significantly as unpaid field workers in rice cultivation. In Vietnam, particularly in the North, a higher proportion of principal females are left behind and take over traditional male tasks such as irrigating the fields, spraying chemicals, and hauling and marketing of farm products. In the Philippines, principal females’ field activities drastically declined. However, their responsibilities in managing their farms increased. In case of principal male migration, the pressure of maintaining and increasing rice productivity falls on the principal females and other family members left behind. Their lack of access to technologies and technical knowledge were addressed by demonstrating technologies which can improve rice production, increase efficiency of inputs, reduce the use of expensive inputs to increase rice profitability. Participatory experiments, training programs and exposure  visits enhanced women’s technical knowledge and skills. To reduce gender inequalities in access to resources, collaborative research projects are going on between the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES), and with non-government organizations in rice producing countries. Through participatory approaches, men  and women validate technologies (stress tolerant varieties and associated crop and management practices) on their own fields using their level of management.

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About taongtanglaw

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