The municipality of Jagna, Bohol is seeing an emerging model in which the local and national government are orchestrating improvements to grow the women-led home-based enterprise of calamay-making.
Jagna is known for calamay, a local delicacy made from glutinous rice. Calamay-making is a century-old industry dominated by home-based women producers. Many of them engage in this livelihood activity as a source of subsistence and not as a business enterprise. A calamay producer normally sells 100-140 pieces a day during peak seasons in May, September, November and December but less than 50 pieces a day on off-peak season. Producers often end up with loans and with minimal profits from their investment.
The growth of the calamay-making industry in Jagna was limited by the product’s shelf life (3-5 days), traditional packaging (use of a coconut shell requiring sterilization), technical and financial limitations of the LGU to grow the industry, and financial and facility limitations that hinderered women calamay producers from getting approval from the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD).
Enhancing the calamay-making industry has long been a development agenda of the local government. However, with the Great Women Project (GWP) efforts to grow calamay-making not only began addressing gender issues, but also introduced comprehensive interventions through a partner convergence strategy. Partner convergence was viewed as the strategy to economically uplift women producers of calamay and their households since it tapped different players with varying interests, mandates and possible contributions to the project.
The local government of Jagna initiated the convergence of stakeholders from the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science Technology, Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor and Employment, GWP, local Chamber of Commerce and the academe. The GWP provided a gender take-off point in the convergence strategy, by engaging the local government in the gender analysis of the calamay industry. The local government of Jagna used its appreciation of gender issues in women-dominated industries in the area and facilitated inter-agency inputs to help grow the local calamay-making industry. At the beginning of convergence, the women producers of calamay were resistant to change. However, social marketing of the project convergence initiative convinced 43 out of the 60 producers to participate in the project.
As a result of partner convergence, women micro-entrepreneurs increased their knowledge of product development and packaging. The partners further committed to conduct continuous market research and product innovation; standardize raw materials, products and processes; expand market outreach; provide capacity and capability building of women micro-entrepreneurs and establish a common sustainable facility.
Jagna is ensuring the sustainability of women economic empowerment measures independently by identifying project champions at the LGU level and enahancing the capacities of technical working group members.
The convergence strategy adopted in growing the calamay industry has become a model for convergence mechanisms addressing women-led industries in Jagna. It is also serving as a sustainability mechanism for gender-responsive interventions targeting women micro-entrepreneurs.
Written by Ms. Nimfa Lloren, President, LCW and Chairperson, TWG for GWP in Jagna, Bohol