Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said that the Duterte administration should zero in on agricultural jobs and farmers’ income in the last stretch of the president’s term.
Salceda cautioned the government that while March employment numbers showed an increase of about 2 million new jobs, “most of these jobs are still rather weak and impermanent.”
The lawmaker said that formula for poverty reduction is simple: stable jobs plus low prices equal low poverty.
“We particularly need to look at agriculture, where most jobs are ‘part-time.’ 3.7 million out of the 7.2 million workers in the agriculture sector are part-time. So, they’re probably not earning enough,” Salceda said, citing March figures.
“I would strongly advise President Duterte and his team to focus on agricultural jobs and farmer income, as well as stable and cheap food production, in the final lap of his term. That’s the area where we will get the most socioeconomic returns,” Salceda added.
Salceda also noted that the country’s agri-infrastructure program may require a “mindset shift” from farm-to-market to “farm-to-process.”
“Let’s face it. There’s something missing in our farm-to-market inclination in agri-infra. The crucial missing link is processing, especially for food surplus. That means building new food processing and cold storage facilities and the roads to those facilities. That will also mean building new food terminals. That will even involve cyber infra, that would allow farmers to sell and negotiate their goods online,” Salceda said.
“What President Duterte’s team can do towards this paradigm is to ensure that Agri-Agra credit reform is enacted within his term, Secretary Dar is able to generate a comprehensive report on the problems in agri value chains, and the DA and the DPWH are able to map out how to link farms to processing facilities, for the next administration’s reference,” Salceda explained.