Farmers, fishermen still PH’s lowest paid, says study
Even if they produce the food we eat, agriculture workers remain the poorest in the Philippines, the Statistics chief said, as he noted the need for improved policy support and investments in the sector.
Poverty incidence is highest among fishermen and farmers at 41.4 percent and 36.7 percent respectively in 2009, National Statistical Coordination Board Secretary-General Jose Ramon Albert said Friday.
This is “way above” the poverty incidence for the entire Philippines pegged at 26.5 percent in the same year, Albert said in his “Beyond the Numbers” post in the NSCB website.
This is not surprising, Albert said, as he noted that farmers and fishermen are among the economy’s least paid workers and also post the lowest labor productivity rate.
Farmers were only paid an average of P156.8 a day in 2011 while fishermen took home P178.43 daily, rates the statistics chief compared to those of Pinoy “kasambahays.”
The entire agriculture sector, meanwhile, posted the lowest labor productivity rate of only P56,728 in 2012, way below the industry and services sectors’ rates of P351,024 and P181,850 respectively.
Labor productivity is measured as the ratio of the sector’s gross value added–or its contribution to the national economy–to the total number of employed persons.
Agriculture’s importance to the economy has dwindled over the years to only 11.1 percent in 2012 from 29.7 percent in 1946, Albert said.
He noted, however, that the sector has comprised about a third of the country’s total employment for the past two decades.
“[T]he Philippines continues to face a lot of challenges particularly to uplift the farmers out of poverty,” Albert said, despite resources devoted to the sector by past and present administrations.
The Statistics chief however urged critics to be wary in using current data to slam the government’s efforts to improve agriculture, noting that “even when policy interventions are made, the effects take time.”
He also urged private sector and civil society involvement in the agriculture sector by reducing transportation costs and the profits of middle-men.
“Many efforts have not yielded fruit, but perhaps, it is time also for everyone to recognize that we can’t leave everything to government,” Albert said.