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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dept. of Agriculture Cites Young Filipino Farmers in Agri Sector's Growth

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has recognized the significant contribution of younger Filipinos getting involved in farming and fisheries to boost the country’s agriculture sector.
Citing DA’s Philippine Rural Development Plan baseline survey, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said the average age of Filipino farmers and fishermen was 57, but is now lower at 47.
Also, based on the Philippine Statistics Authority data, the average age of farmers and fishermen was lower at 43, he noted.
“That means a lot of young people are now involved in agriculture,” Alcala said.
The Secretary said this may be due to the fact that DA employees exert effort to go to the grassroots to give service, which resulted in better rapport between the DA and the farmers and fishermen.
He expects this new generation of farmers to embrace new technologies and mechanization.
“In Southern Luzon State University, there is a 280 percent increase in the enrollment in agriculture related courses,” Alcala added. 

Earlier, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said the best way of getting our youth back into farming is to show to them that they can get money out of it.
The DAR chief, however, stressed that this could be attained if the farmers would be able to develop their social capital by forming themselves into a cohesive organization, which, in turn, would help enhance their financial capital through easy access to credit.
He explained that most financing institutions prefer to deal with a credible farmers’ organization rather than with individual farmer because it is easier to deal with one group compared to a number of individuals.
De los Reyes said the government has established production credit assistance programs with insurance package  to enable the farmers to have starting capital for farm inputs and protect them from possible losses in case of calamities.
“One major requirement of this credit assistance is for our farmer-beneficiaries to organize themselves into a credible organization,” he said.
De los Reyes added that it is also vital to teach farmers how to plant and show them what to do to make farming more profitable so that the youth might consider taking a second look at it as a profession.
He explained that the government has linked up with the academe and business sectors to provide farmers new farming methods to enhance farm productivity and offer value-added schemes, like processing their raw products into finished product to increase their market value.
“Being an organization brings a lot of opportunities to our farmer-beneficiaries. It helps them purchase farm inputs at much lesser cost, while giving them the opportunity to transact business with big business firms in need of raw farm products,” De los Reyes said.
He explained that the ability of a farmers’ organization to buy by bulk enables it to purchase farm inputs for its members, like seedlings and fertilizer, among others, at wholesale prices, which an individual farmer could not avail himself of because he only buys for his own needs.
De los Reyes added that an organization of farmers could plan ahead what crop to plant to meet the volume requirements of a big business firm that it had transacted with to be its supplier of raw farm outputs.
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