Agricultural workers still the lowest income receivers, lawmaker says

AGRI party-list representative Wilbert Lee delivers a message during the “Agri Sila! Agri Tayo! Agri Para sa Lahat!” webinar on Oct. 19, 2022. Screenshot from the Artlets Student Council’s Facebook live stream.

FARMERS AND fishermen remain to be the lowest-paid laborers among the sectors in the country, a party-list representative for agriculture said.

“[A]mong the 11 basic sectors in the Philippines, farmers and fisherfolks residing in rural areas still remain the poorest and receive the lowest income,” AGRI party-list representative and UST alumnus Wilbert Lee said during the Artlets Student Council’s webinar titled “Agri Sila! Agri Tayo! Para sa Lahat!”

Non-agriculture workers in the National Capital Region currently earn a minimum wage rate of 533 to 570 pesos daily.

However, Lee said that in 2020 the daily income for farmers was P270.62. The average daily basic wage of agricultural workers increased to P274.99 in 2019 from P237.44 in the previous year.

He also said that agricultural workers are also seen as disadvantaged because they are the first to bear the impacts of natural disasters and the economy.

“Workers in the agricultural sector are poor, have limited access to good education, vulnerable to physical and economic risks, and carry a lot of financial burden…The main producers of food are the ones who suffer the most,” Lee said.

Due to this, many agricultural laborers “escape its greed” and are forced to find better opportunities outside the sector, he added.

Agriculturist Justin Paolo Interno urged the government to stabilize the socio-economic sector and protect the welfare of agricultural workers. 

“There should be a proper allocation of resources, benefits, and access to all. This includes access to sustainable, inexpensive, and affordable food (for farmers),” he said. 

“Agri Sila! Agri Tayo! Agri Para sa Lahat!” was organized by the Artlets Student Council in partnership with UST Simbahayan Community Development Office, AB Community Development, Barangay Kanluran Kabubuhayan, and the Ministry of Urban Poor Diocese of Kalookan. F – Zoe Airabelle Aguinaldo 

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