THE government must ensure decent wages to roughly 12 million farmers in the country who play a crucial role in achieving food security and self-sufficiency, Senator Francis Escudero said Friday.
Escudero said concrete measure must be drawn out to address the plight and improve the status of the farm workers who comprise almost one third of the country’s entire labor force.
“In order to ensure the sustainability of the agriculture sector and food security, it becomes imperative for the government to safeguard the interest of farmers by assuring them decent levels of income and sustainable livelihoods,” the senator said.
“This is the best way to make our country’s economic growth inclusive because it will target the most impoverished sector in our society,” he added.
Escudero said that better infrastructure and access to funding programs must be granted to farmers to enable them to produce food as efficiently as possible and feed the country’s rapidly expanding population.
He issued the statement after Budget Secretary Florencio Abad admitted that the country’s “biggest missed opportunity" under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III was the lack of implementation of a wage increase for local farmers.
Latest figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the agriculture sector employed 11.84 million individuals, representing 31 percent of the national employment.
In the first half of 2013, the daily nominal wage rates were P256.52 for grain farm workers and P206.04 for corn farm workers.
Escudero said the dire conditions of Filipino farmers merely highlight the “sorry” state of the country’s agricultural sector.
“It’s sad to say but agriculture remains to be a poor man’s sector. Despite being a huge asset to national development, agriculture has been the most neglected and least understood sector of the nation’s economy,” Escudero said.
He said he was confident that helping farmers improve their living condition standards would eventually result in increased production of locally grown staple and steady supply of agricultural products. (Sunnex)