Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Prioritization of Small Coconut Farmers

By Alon Calinao Dy: In the Philippines, climate is always changing as the threat of EL Niño among coconut farmers and other agricultural labourers is evident.

The sad reality is, farmers do not live by doing one job alone. They also work as carpenters, tricycle drivers, electricians, and other types of work in order to survive. In short, they can multitask.

Many farming families rely on raw agricultural products, especially in Samar in which people depend on kopras, an edible white meat of a coconut. 

Small coconut farmers from Samar, Cebu, Aklan, Leyte, and other regions are considered to be the poorest sector in the country. They often sell their products cheaper than market price. They've patiently waited a long time for their products, but then the money they earn is not enough to support the needs of their families. 

Some people find it difficult to say thank you for their hard work, and don't even think that they are underpaid. That's why when I buy something from the farmers, I don't ask for a discount because I want to help them in my own little way. 

In other countries, farmers are considered as rich and influential people. But in the Philippines, they are considered as the poorest class of people when in fact they bring food in our tables. 

So sad, many coconut farmers and agricultural labourers do not own their land. Enough income is needed to sustain the needs of their loved ones. I think they need proper support not only in the government but in some non-governmental organizations (NGOs). 

These farmers experience discrimination every day. They also suffer high unemployment rates because some of them are undergraduates and others cannot read and write. They may be illiterate people, but even so they deserve great respect. Because without them, I don't think consumers will have fresh fruits and vegetables that are needed to stay healthy each day.