May 8, 2012
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, and Co-chairman of the Agriculture and Fisheries Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM), renews his call for the government to look into the country’s agriculture and fisheries sector for generating employment, livelihood, and investment opportunities.
“For the longest time, the agriculture sector has suffered a lowly image among Filipinos, who think it a lowly and unprofitable ventures,” says Pangilinan. “Yet we see how agriculture can turn around economies when given the right support structure by government. We see it in our neighbors—Thailand, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and other ASEAN nations. There is no question that we can do the same in the Philippines.”
Pangilinan makes the call in light of a recent survey reported by the National Statistics Office (NSO), showing that the current profile of the country’s unemployed will not qualify for the new jobs being generated in the country. According to the NSO, the country’s jobless are mostly male, are below 25 years old, and predominantly lack the education required by most employers, particularly the BPO sector.
“What many of us fail to see is that there can be profitable opportunities in agriculture and agri-business—if only we give the agri and fisheries sector the right kind of support. The reality is that farmers in other countries are enjoying comforts that our farmers here cannot afford. Imagine if our agricultural workers can actually earn enough money for them to build a comfortable life in the countryside. When rural folks’ incomes increase, there will be a corresponding increase in their disposable income and, therefore, in the demand for goods and services. This will have a tremendous multiplier effect on the economy.”
“The Department of Agriculture has done so much to improve the sector, but there is still much that we can do,” continues Pangilinan. “Creating jobs within the agriculture and fisheries sector will require making wise investments and instituting policy reforms. Given that we are still a predominantly agriculture-based economy, the government must be able to provide these for the benefit of our unemployed and underemployed. It’s about time we make the most of our natural resources in order to provide a better living for our countrymen.”