The poverty of farmers, fishers, and people living in rural areas, especially in far-flung villages is unimaginable and even conservative estimates from surveys cannot capture through figures and statistics alone. “Farmers born and die in poverty and it’s inhuman.”
This week, the poverty incidence data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that farmers remain among the poorest sectors along with fisherfolk, children, and persons living in rural areas. Fisherfolk had the highest poverty incidence at 30.6 percent, farmers at 30%, children at 26.4%, and individuals residing in rural areas at 25.7 percent.
“The actual and real poverty incidence of farmers and fishers could even be worse and this reality of massive impoverishment will remain for the remainder of Marcos Jr’s term as President and concurrent agriculture secretary,” according to KMP chairman emeritus Rafael Mariano. “As long as Marcos Jr fails to reverse the policies that made farmers and fishers even poorer, then there’s no real solution to this perennial poverty problem.
KMP said at the start of Marcos Jr’s term, farmers have proposed actionable doables to help address the situation of farmers and the agriculture sector. Amon these include the following: the issuance of an Executive Order (EO) prohibiting the conversion of agricultural lands devoted to or suitable for the production of staple food crops; suspending the implementation of R.A. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law/Rice Liberalization Law; stop the policy of food import dependency by revoking Executive Orders 134 and 135, revoking fish import permits and amending RA 10845 or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.
Farmers also proposed for Marcos Jr. to certify as urgent the passage of food self-sufficiency bills: the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (HB 1161), the proposed Rice Industry Development Act (HB 405), and the Fertilizer Subsidy Program. We already outlined what Marcos Jr. had to do as President and Agriculture secretary to genuinely take out farmers from extreme poverty. We batted for the certification as urgent of a comprehensive economic stimulus that will provide P10,000 cash aid and P15,000 production subsidy for farmers, fishers, and agricultural workers. However, the Marcos government did the opposite and instead prioritized the legislation of Maharlika Investment Fund and Charter Change through Constitutional Convention that will eventually 100% foreign-ownership of land.”
Mariano added: “Palaging pinakamahirap pa rin ang mga magsasaka dahil walang tunay na reporma sa lupa at walang tunay na pag-unlad ng kanayunan at industriyalisasyon ng rural economy. Mas naghihirap din ang mga magsasaka dahil sa todong importasyon at liberalisasyon ng agrikultura. Hindi rin sapat ang badyet at pondo sa agrikultura na karaniwan pang nalulustay sa korapsyon. Nakaparaming dapat gawin ang Pangulo na siya ring agriculture secretary.” [Translation: Farmers remain among the poorest due to the persistent absence of genuine land reform and rural industrialization. Farmers became even more poorer as a result of importation and liberalization of agriculture. The national budget for agriculture is also very meager and oftentimes funneled to corruption. The President and concurrent agriculture secretary Bongbong Marcos has a lot to do and he is tasked upon to reform the agriculture sector.]
KMP and its allies will lead protests at the Department of Agrarian Reform in time for the Day of the Landless 2023 with the theme Rural People Unite for Food, Land, and Climate Justice.#