Food-price hikes and the situation of farm workers in the Philippines

Agricultural wage labourers in the Philippines were especially vulnerable to the food-price increases of 2007–08. Their wages do not cover the costs of food, clothing, and shelter, much less healthcare and their children's education. Food-price inflation reached 17.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2008. Farm workers had to spend most of their average daily wage of US$ 3 on buying rice, which meant foregoing the purchase of other foods and key necessities. Measures to reduce the price of calories for landless labourers are of critical importance to poverty alleviation. Improved social protection programmes would have helped in the short term. In order to achieve long-term food security, the Philippines must develop self-sufficiency in rice, based on small-farm agriculture. A key challenge is to generate productive, high-paying jobs and ensure that every poor household is gainfully employed or has its own source of livelihood.