EMPLOYMENT in Northern Mindanao increased with the agriculture sector as the biggest employer, according to a report by the Regional Development Council.

In the second quarter, the agriculture sector contributed 45.1 percent of total employment. This was followed by services with 44.8 percent, most of which in the wholesale and retail trade subsector, the report said.

Industry accounts for only about 10 percent of total employment, mostly in manufacturing and construction.

The same report stated that the working age population increased by 1.75 percent from 2.67 million in the second quarter of 2008 to 2.72 million during the same period this year.

“While the employment rate went down very slightly from 95 percent to 94.8 percent, the number of employed people increased by 55,503. Underemployment improved by 2.19 percent, going down to 24.5 percent,” it said.

But despite the increase of employment in the agriculture sector, rice production in the same quarter went down by almost 16 percent from the previous year’s level to only 111,225 metric tons.

Even the performance of Mindanao’s food basket, Bukidnon, decreased by almost 31 percent in irrigated areas. Yield or palay production per hectare in Bukidnon, however, increased in irrigated areas due to usage of fertilizer and less pest infestation.

Corn production also went down by almost 15 percent during the second quarter of 2009 to only 81,117 metric tons. The region’s two top corn producers, Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte, recorded declines of 22.6 and 3.7 percent, respectively.

Misamis Occidental, the report continued, recorded increases both in harvest and yield at 16 and six percent, respectively. This performance was attributed largely due to the seeds support from the agriculture department and respective local government units, increase in area harvested in Tangub and Bonifacio, as well as good rainfall.

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