Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Yakan are agriculturalists who practice dry farming with water buffalo-drawn plows. The main crop is upland rice, harvested once a year, but camote and cassava are also important. Other crops are grown, including maize, eggplants, yams, beans, coffee, and sugarcane, as well as many fruits including papaya, banana, mango, pineapple, jackfruit, and durian. Stimulants, betelpepper, areca nuts, and tobacco are also cultivated. For the growing of the main crops, rotation of fields is practiced. Usually only one crop of rice is grown in a field, and after it is harvested camote or cassava is planted in that field. When this second crop has been harvested, the field is usually left fallow for a couple of years, and then rice is planted again. Few people have enough rice to last them from one harvest to the next. On the whole, the crops mentioned are grown primarily for private use.
The same was formerly the case with coconuts. In more recent years, however, coconuts have become increasingly important as the production of copra has become an essential source of income. Coconuts now supplant other crops, even rice. The Yakan have few domestic animals. Formerly they had great herds of cattle, but this ended during World War II; now a household may have only a few cows and water buffalo. They also keep a few goats and chickens. Pigs, of course, are not kept, since the Yakan are Muslims. Hunting was formerly important but this is no longer the case, and although fish play an important part in the diet, the Yakan seldom fish; they mostly buy fish from the Samal.
Industrial Arts. A few Yakan are smiths. In some places there are skillful boat builders, though the Yakan themselves are not a seafaring people. The boats are sold to the coastal peoples. The only important craft is weaving: Yakan women weave beautiful cloths of various kinds on backstrap looms. Formerly these were for personal use only, but they now make textiles for sale. Some of these are of the same kind they use for their own clothing, others are tourist wares made in the old weaving style.
Trade. Barter was practiced in the past, but now money is in universal use. The Yakan bring their products (aside from copra, some vegetables, and weavings) to the markets. In most settlements there is a small Yakan-owned store where the most important goods can be purchased.
Division of Labor. There is no marked division of labor in agriculture. It is most common for men to plow and harrow, but women also perform these tasks, and other forms of agricultural work are done by both men and women. The increasing importance of coconut growing is changing this because the men do most of the work in connection with the production of coconut and making the copra. Household chores are mostly done by women, but men may help. The crafts are gender-specific: smithing is done by men, weaving by women.
Land Tenure. Land is individually owned, but until recently ownership was only by tradition, without legal titles. This has caused problems as non-Yakans have tried to acquire Yakan land in some areas. Now more and more Yakans have acquired land titles legally.