Agriculture remains the least attractive economic sector


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The agriculture industry continued to be the least attractive sector of the economy in terms of the average wage it could offer, as evidenced by the latest report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

For 2019, the average wage rate of agricultural workers increased only 49.8 index points from its 2012 level. However, with its purchasing power taken into account, PSA said the increase was on average only 24.6 index points.

A separate document provided by the Ministry of Labor and Employment showed that compared to other wages offered in other sectors, agriculture continued to offer lower wages. The average wage of non-farm workers in August 2020 was 537 pesos, compared to agricultural workers whose maximum wage rate was 500 pesos.

Agricultural workers include farmers, farm laborers and fishermen. The Agriculture Ministry said they made up about 8 percent of the country’s population with an estimated workforce of 8.3 million.

By region, PSA said the Davao region recorded the largest increase in its wage rate index with 68.9 points, followed by Mimaropa with 65.9 index points. The smallest wage increases were seen in the Central Luzon, Ilocos and Cordillera regions between 14.9 and 32.1 index points.

Pay rates differ even for male and female workers in the sector, a problem the DA is trying to address with a new loan program aimed exclusively at women.

PSA said the wage rate for male workers was set at P 335 per day on average, while female workers were getting P 304.60 per day.

The report covered farmers working in the country’s four main crops: palay, maize, sugar cane and coconut. Among them, PSA reported that Palay farmers and workers were the best paid compared to their counterparts.

The meager wages in agriculture continued to discourage current farm workers, which may explain why most Filipino farmers were old.

In a separate study by the National Economic and Development Authority, he noted that children of farmers are now gradually leaving the fields to find other employment opportunities with better wages and working conditions. INQ

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