In a report released by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the group predicts that recession and massive job loss will sweep across the globe and spark social unrest.
The Philippines has been fortunate to have been spared from the effects of global recession in the past few years. This time we have to be ahead of the curve, so to speak. The government must focus on generating more jobs within the country’s agriculture and fisheries sector. This sector has been neglected and taken for granted for far too long, which is unfortunate as the sector holds the key to boosting the Philippine economy.
While the BPO sector has provided Filipinos employment opportunities, the country must look for long-term and sustainable solutions in addressing social inequities and unemployment.
Over 66 percent of our labor force is directly and indirectly employed by the agriculture and fisheries sector. With nearly half of our GDP coming from agriculture, fisheries and agribusiness enterprises, we cannot continue to ignore the agriculture and fisheries sector and keep our rural population poor. By modernizing our agriculture and fisheries sector and increasing the incomes of nearly half the nation’s population who live in the rural areas, the multiplier effect on the economy will be stupendous.
When the rural folks’ incomes increase there will be a corresponding increase in demand for goods and services. Banks will have more clients. Car manufacturers will have to increase their output to meet the demands of increased spending capacity of the rural folk. Home appliance stores, manufacturers and all other consumer products will see a huge jump in their sales and in production to meet half the country’s spending habits transformed by a robust agriculture and agribusiness economy.
However, focusing on the agricultural sector will not be an easy task, as Filipinos have a lowly perception of the sector. Our collective mindset sees agriculture as demeaning and dirty, and best left to the poor farmer or fisherfolk. This paradigm has kept us from progressing economically. The multiplier effect of raising the incomes of our agriculture and fisheries workers numbering nearly seventy percent would lift the economy tremendously, as the sector will attract more investors, generate more jobs, and ensure that our farmers—now aging considerably as their average age is 57 years old—will have succession.
All these can help turn our economy around and save us from the massive effects of a global recession. The rest of the world is already beefing up efforts to provide jobs and job security for their own citizens. By making wise investments and policy reforms in the agriculture, agribusiness, and fisheries sectors, we can generate the jobs that our people need to be able to make a good living at home and be spared the effects of financial crises in other parts of the world.