DA calls on local gov’ts to help farmworkers
The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Friday urged local government leaders to help the nearly 900,000 farm workers who were displaced due to the series of recent typhoons that devastated agricultural areas across the country.
A recent report issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that 862,000 farm workers lost their jobs in September, pushing the country’s unemployment rate during the month to 8.9 percent —the highest this year.
Agriculture Undersecretary Fermin Adriano told the Inquirer that while the agency was ready to provide assistance to these unemployed farmworkers through the distribution of cash assistance and free seeds, it is the local governments that are in a position to provide immediate relief.
“The DA is now distributing cash assistance and free seeds to enable farmers to plant immediately and generate employment,” Adriano said. “But obviously, the task is too huge for DA to handle alone. The [local governments] should be mobilized as their primary mandate is to deliver basic services to their constituents.”
Based on PSA’s report, the number of Filipinos employed in agriculture and forestry declined to 8.99 million in September from 9.85 million in August.
Economic managers are pinning the blame on Typhoon “Jolina,” which affected some 30,000 hectares of agricultural land across Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas and destroyed P1.36 billion worth of agricultural commodities and infrastructure.
This number of displaced workers should swell in the coming months following the devastation caused by Severe Tropical Storm “Maring” —the latest calamity to hit the country and also the most destructive this year. Maring destroyed over P2 billion worth of agricultural goods.
The difficulties that come with farming have been exacerbated by the high prices of fuel and fertilizer.
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