LACK OF FARM WORKERS: The Big Problem For Farm Owners

We were talking to a lady who was buying seeds at the Allied Botanical Corporation a couple of days ago. She and her husband who are early retirees from their employment opted to go into farming in their 4.5-hectare farm in Tanay, Rizal.

She confessed that their big problem is the lack of reliable farm workers.  At present, they have two farm workers but the big trouble is that they are very lazy. They used to have more hardworking workers but because tourism is booming somewhat in Tanay, they gave up their farm work to become tricycle drivers. The lady could understand their decision. They make more money driving tricycle than being farm workers.

The lady from Tanay is not alone in their predicament. A number of our readers have been asking us to recommend farm workers for them. We usually beg off from recommending workers, however. That’s because we don’t really know how our recommendees will perform.

Maybe, giving incentives in the form of bonus if they  perform well could attract more hardworking farm workers. Maybe, a share of the profit will also work.

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6 thoughts on “LACK OF FARM WORKERS: The Big Problem For Farm Owners

  1. Please let them undergo formal TESDA and other trainings. It will make them proud and change their mindset. Let them participate in the fruit of their labor by giving them a bit of profit sharing; by proudly posting them with “their” work on Facebook, not only the output of their work. Try to figure how you can support their community.

  2. i know exactly how they feel. i had failed farm projects in recent years that are attributed to farm workers’ work ethic. many would like to get paid but does not want to work hard.

  3. The discrepancy = labor laws + wage levels + profitability + trade + influx of cheap imports from China + lack of government support + high wage abroad + increasing property value + natural disasters + __________?


    I don’t know the answers to this difficult question.

    Temporary suggestion, make a kibbutz style for communities?

    As to farm workers, increase wages above minimum wage (as an incentive) and you lose profitability – unless there are already ready buyers of your product who have prepaid or already purchased (pero talo sila) the goods.

    This is an aspect of the economy that our economists have neglected. The focus is on making dollars and industrialization. Dati pa yan, in Ramos time it was Philippines 2000. Everybody forgot about the farmers.

    Nobody in their right minds would want to work from 1 PM to 3 PM. Try niyo araw araw for less than minimum wage.

  4. You can opt to go on using small farm machinery and transplanting will be done on a per plant/seed. All you need is a machine operator.
    For the meantime plant cassava, bananas, calamansi and some crops that dont need too much care. If leafy veggies have demand, broadcasts the seeds and pass the wooden harrow. Mongo can also be broadcasted during the late season of rainfall in your area.
    Hire a farm manager to manage your farm on a profit sharing. Leave those problems to your farm manager it can be done.

  5. Zac,

    I wish to compliment you on your insightful articles around agriculture. As an industry newbie, your articles are always on my reading list.

    There will come a time when we look back–with regret–on manual spray practices. I’ve traveled throughout the Philippines and have NEVER seen any spray laborer with PPE’s (personal protective equipment) outside of IRRI. The inconvenient truth is that the health of farmers and their families are at risk.

    A study by Dr. Jinky Liu of the NIH goes into detail around the symptoms that we don’t see.

    It’s interesting that amidst the willful or benign neglect, some still expect talent to stay.

    We are not going to get the best minds in agriculture amidst conditions widely consider inhumane. The human drive for personal advancement (and safety) dooms any wishful thinking. Developed markets, such as Japan and Korea, achieve food security with far less farm hands because they have invested in transplanters, harvesters, and drones.

    Rising labor costs already make these automation choices very compelling today. The pursuit of technology will raise salaries and keep talent from working in SM malls or call centers.

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