Poverty in Northern Mindanao 'biggest' headache

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Friday, December 13, 2013


GROWTH in investments and agricultural production did not even out the unemployment and poverty incidence in Northern Mindanao region.

“Poverty is the biggest headache in the region,” said Engineer Cecilio Clarete, chief economic development specialist of National Economic Development Authority (Neda) in Northern Mindanao.

Clarete said the poverty situation in the region has no improvement for the last 10 years.

“One in every three families in the region is poor,” he said, adding that it is highest in Bukidnon.

Based on the document posted by the National Statistical Coordination Board-National Office (NCSB-National), the poor families in the region have a magnitude of 320,113 in 2012. “But in 2009 we only have 298,472 while it is lowest in 2006 which is 263,982.”

In Lanao Del Norte, the poverty incidence increased from 57,196, 74,184 to 83,640 in the year 2006, 2009 and 2012, respectively.

Amid the increase in poverty magnitude, in Misamis Oriental, the magnitude of poor families decreased from 75,725 in 2009 to 63,513 in 2012.

Bukidnon province, the document showed that it has the highest magnitude of poor families from 98,340 in 2009 to 120,760 in 2012 — an increase of 22,420 in just three years.

Unemployment

The unemployment rate in Northern Mindanao increased from 5.0-percent in 2012 to 6.1-percent in July 2013 that is equivalent to 18,500 to 122,500 persons respectively.

The underemployment rate in the region is the fourth highest in the country which accounts to 15.7-percent or 501,200 individuals.

Meanwhile, the employment in the region is at 1.898-million—48.8-percent in the services sector, 39.2-percent in agriculture and 21.0-percent in the industry sector.

Increase in agri production

Ironically, there is an increase in the agricultural production and investments in the region.

Based on the regional economic situationer presented by Neda for Northern Mindanao, in the third quarter of 2013 the production of rice plant (palay) increased by 19-percent for a total of 180,481 metric tons excluding Misamis Oriental.

Amid the increase of the magnitude of poverty in Bukidnon province, there is a growth of plant rice production per year which contributes for the 62-percent of the region’s total growth.

Overall on major crops production, it increased by 3.77-percent from last year’s level.

Palm fruit production increased by almost 10-percent from last year and it is the top contributor in industrial crops production.

In the same document, a total of P800.42-million of new investments was poured in the region during the third quarter of 2013.

“We should improve the quality of jobs in the region,” said Clarete.

He said the region should improve the productivity of workers in the industrial sector.

“If we can develop this (industry) sector we can increase income,” he said.

He added that the Northern Mindanao should not rely solely on the production of raw materials and include “value-adding” activities in agriculture.

“We should at least start off with pre-processing of our raw materials, and then later on full processing of our agricultural products,” Clarete said as to how to improve the quality of jobs in the agriculture sector.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 13, 2013.

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