Sugar, coconut farmers get lowest daily pay among all agri workers

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

Albeit Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recorded an increase in the average daily wage rates of all agriculture workers in the country, what sugarcane and coconut farmers received on a daily basis for the entire 2018 was notably lower than what the others got.

PSA’s recently released Trends in Agricultural Wage Rates Survey (AWRS) report showed that of all the agricultural workers in the country, those who work in coconut farms and sugarcane farms receive the lowest daily nominal wage rates of ₱264 and ₱273, respectively, in 2018.

Palay farmers, on the other hand, received ₱325 average daily pay.

In total, the national nominal wage rate index in agriculture increased to 138.60 percent. This means that the wage rate received by agricultural workers in 2018 was higher by 38.60 index points from the 2012 wage rate.

Across regions, Bicol Region recorded the biggest wage rate index of 160.70 percent or a wage gain of 60.70 index points in 2018 from the base year record. Davao Region was next with 51.30 index point increase.

Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley had the lowest wage increments at 10.70 index points and 14.70 index points, respectively.

Sugarcane farm workers, in particular, received the lowest wage gain at 9.40 index points.

In a recent interview, Eddie Jungco, a small farmer in Negros, said that in the last sugar crop year, which ended in August 31, he only earned about ₱16,000 — his total earnings for the last 12 months.

Jungco owns 0.64 hectares of farm land in Negros, which accounted for more than half of the sugar produced in the country. To plant sugarcane in his farm, he said he had to spend ₱52,000 to ₱56,000. His gross earnings was ₱72,000.

“Our labor cost was too high because it’s all manually done,” Jungco said in Filipino. “We don’t really make money.”

He said the money that he made in the last sugar crop year is not even enough to buy rice for his family for the entire year. Right now, he lives with his wife and two daughters.

When the last sugar crop year ended in August 31, the average millsite price of raw sugar in the domestic market was at ₱1,530 per 50-kilo bag. As of October 13, the millsite price stood lower at ₱1,521.77 per 50-kilo bag.

While waiting for harvest, Jungco said he takes sidelines jobs. He also raises a few pigs that was just recently donated to him by a politician.

At the national level, the wage rate received by agricultural workers in 2018 on a daily basis averaged ₱280.17, PSA said.

Among regions, CALABARZON registered the highest wage rate at ₱359.24 per day and Zamboanga Peninsula, the lowest at ₱220.95 per day. In terms of wage rate per hectare, farm workers were paid an average of ₱313.19 per day. At the regional level, farm workers in CAR got the biggest daily wage rate at ₱523.98.

The least wage rates were noted in Northern Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula at ₱252.48 and ₱242.65 per day, respectively.

In non-agriculture sector, minimum wage across the country stand at more than ₱500 per day. This is expected to go up by next year.