COVID-19 slashes income of farmers across PH

Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) said there is a need for the Philippine government to “rethink” agriculture interventions as COVID-19 continues to reduce the number of farmers as well as their income.

“Due to lockdown, mobility restrictions result to quantity reduction in farm labor. If it continues longer, this would translate to reduction in agriculture productivity,” said SEARCA Director Glenn B. Gregorio.

“The loss of income and economic slowdown would also result in decrease in demand, particularly among the farmers and farming families with no safety nets,” he added.

Onto the second month of the lockdown, a decline in Philippines’ agricultural production is being placed at 2.97 percent due to a decrease in the number of farmers tilling the land.

The downturn in agricultural production is worsened by farmers’ limited access to farm inputs and markets to sell produce.

This has already resulted in profit losses and wastage of farm produce such as that in vegetable capital Benguet.

Gregorio then suggested a more collaborative approach in solving the food security problem.

He said collaboration should be intensified between government, industries, and the academe—the center and origin of many innovations and technology.

“Our experience with COVID-19 highlights the importance of how we define food security. This becomes the basis of how we design programs and projects,” Gregorio stressed.

He also said that what is positive about the crisis from the pandemic is the increasing support of consumers as a result of their understanding between “what is on their plate and agriculture.”