Ensuring that farmers’ incomes improve year on year should be among the priorities of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
This was a point made by Senator Bam Aquino, at Monday’s Senate hearing on the DA’s 2014 budget.
According to the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), the average net income of an agricultural household in the Philippines is at least Php61,000 per year or just a little over Php5,000 per month. Some reports say that coconut farmers are among the country’s poorest of the poor, earning an average of only Php23,000 per year.
“We need to make the agricultural sector more attractive, to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the sector,” Sen. Aquino said. “We need to make sure that as our production levels are rising, our income levels are rising as well.”
The lawmaker likewise proposed that ensuring the improvement of farmers’ annual incomes be a part of the DA’s performance indicators.
He added, “Even if we’re increasing our level of production but our farmers are still earning this level of income, mahihirapan talaga tayo (it’s going to be very hard for us) to achieve our targets.”
“The agricultural sector can make a big difference in our push for inclusive growth, but that means nobody should be left behind as we work to improve our productivity. Hindi puwedeng naiiwan ang mga magsasaka at naghihirap pa rin sila habang umaangat ang ekonomiya ng bansa. Kailangang magkasabay ang pag-akyat ng produksyon sa pag-angat ng mga kita ng mga pamilyang nakasalalay sa agrikultura.”