Employment in agriculture declining, but wages are up
Based on the latest Agricultural Indicators System of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the total number of persons employed in agriculture declined to 9.7 million in 2019, down three percent from 10 million in 2018.
STAR/ File

Employment in agriculture declining, but wages are up

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - November 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Less and less people are venturing into the agriculture sector with its contribution to the country’s overall employment also on a decline, but salaries of farmers have recorded a steady increase over the last five years.

Based on the latest Agricultural Indicators System of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the total number of persons employed in agriculture declined to 9.7 million  in 2019, down three percent from   10 million in 2018.

This is already a 14 percent drop from the five-year reference period when 11.3 million people worked in the sector in 2015.

Correspondingly, the agriculture sector’s contribution to the country’s total employment decreased to 23 percent from 24  percent in 2018, 25 percent in 2017, 27 percent in 2016 and 29 percent in 2015.

The Federation of Free Farmers explained that there are several reasons for the decline, including an aging farming population as old farmers are not replaced by their children due to lack of incentive to go into farming.

The country’s farmers, whose average age ranges from 57 to 60 years old, will soon bid farewell to farming due to old age.

“There’s also land conversion, while some farmers opt to sell their lands and move on to other livelihoods,” FFF national manager Raul Montemayor told The STAR.

“Another is mechanization, resulting in displacement of farm labor, as well as poor economic condition and profitability of farmers, which results in reduced hiring of farm labor in order to save on costs,” he said.

According to Montemayor, there is a need to make agriculture interesting and profitable.

“Otherwise, people will naturally shy away from farming and the decline in employment will get even worse.”

The Department of Agriculture earlier said the Philippines is gearing toward transforming the local farm sector into an industry backed by science and technology and is run by the younger generation.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the sector must be changed into a competitive, science-and technology-backed industry, managed by young, innovative Filipinos.

On the other hand, the average basic wage and salary paid to workers in the agriculture sector increased to P247.81 per day in 2019, up four percent from the 2018 level of P237.38 per day.

It increased yearly by an average of six percent growth from 2015 to 2019. Still, this is a far cry from the P537 per day daily minimum wage in the Philippines.

Agricultural workers engaged in fishing and aquaculture activities received higher salaries at an average of P262.42 per day, than those involved in agriculture and forestry whose payment averaged P246.62 per day.

Further, declining agricultural employment was observed in all 17 regions except for Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen, and the Bangsamoro region.

Western Visayas still registered the highest employment in agriculture at 873,000 persons in 2019.

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