MANILA — The Philippines’ Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan said during the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia here Wednesday that the East Asian region must address discrimination and neglecting of workforce in the agriculture sector.
During the Grow Asia Agriculture Forum which summarizes the whole-day discussion of agriculture sector leaders and stakeholders in the East Asian region, Pangilinan mentioned that both developed countries like Germany and developing countries like the Philippines have been neglecting and taking advantage of farmers.
Pangilinan cited that average annual wage of farmers in the last 10 years was posted at US$ 400 or over P17,000.
Currently, farmer’s average annual wage is at US$ 900 million or less than P40,000.
In seven years, it is expected to grow to at least US$ 1,500 per year or around P66,000 average annual wage.
“Here in the Philippines we look up to lawyers; we look up to doctors. But we need doctors, perhaps, occasionally in our lives; same with lawyers,” he said. “(But) we need farmers not only everyday but we need farmers three times a day.”
Pangilinan noted that farmers have critical role in assuring food security in the region.
“If we are to achieve food security we must first secure the farmers,” he pointed out.
Pangilinan stressed that a paradigm shift on agriculture sector, specifically in working as a farmer is crucial to sustain food security in the East Asian region.
According to Pangilinan, many in the region — particularly in the Philippines — refuse to go in to farming.
“In the Philippine settings, the new generation of Filipinos refuse to go in to farming. That is truly a threat to food security when the new generation refuses to go farming,” he said.
“Who will feed? Who will get the food? It is alarming. Refocusing and shifting paradigms is needed,” he stressed.
Further, Pangilinan mentioned that the agriculture sector always face risks; thus it will be beneficial to have insurance for farmers after facing these risks.
He said, in the local context, the private sector has more financial capability to assist farmers as the business community shares 85 percent of the total gross domestic product (GDP).
“In context of the private sector and government in the Philippines setting, 85 percent of the GDP comes from the private sector. Fifteen percent came from the government. Therefore, when it comes to support, the deepest pockets is in the private sector,” Pangilinan stressed.
“Government must inspire, must convince private sector to risk funds, to invest in the agriculture sector. These resources must be mobilized to the farmers,” he added.