By Hannah Torregoza
Reelectionist Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara has urged the government to come up with mechanisms that would make the agriculture industry appealing to young Filipinos.
Angara noted that today’s Filipino youth are not interested to venture into farming, putting the future of the country’s agriculture industry at risk.
He said it is high time the government should put in place measures that would create more jobs and allow today’s Filipino youth to try their hand in agriculture.
“Kailangan nating palakasin ang sektor ng agrikultura at palakihin ang kita ng mga magsasaka para mahikayat natin ang mga kabataan na magsaka, (We need to strengthen the agriculture sector and increase the earnings of our farmers to encourage our youth to farm),” said Angara, who joined the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP) campaign caravan in Negros Occidental.
Negros Occident is home to at least six universities and colleges offering various courses in agriculture.
Angara issued the statement following the release of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) results on the January 2019 Labor Force Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The PSA study showed that the agriculture sector suffered 1.7 million job losses and contributed to the decline in the actual number of employed Filipinos in January this year compared to the same period last year.
The same survey also showed that the total registered employment decreased by 0.9 percent to 41.1 million in January, or equivalent to 387,000 fewer workers, compared to the previous year.
According to NEDA, this was mainly due to the 1.7-million employment loss in the agriculture sector, which overshadowed the combined 1.3 million additional jobs in industry and services sectors.
Angara said the government’s lack of support services to farmers has led to the poor state of agriculture in the country and the industry unappealing to pursue as a career.
“The seeming lack of government support to the agriculture sector is one of the most compelling reasons why we find it so hard to encourage young people to consider farming as a career, and why farmers and farm workers are leaving the field for better-paying jobs,” Angara lamented.
He also noted that the waning interest in agriculture among the youth was evident in the sharp decline of enrollees in agriculture courses from 2015 to 2018, which dropped by almost 30 percent.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) reported that 142,182 students had enrolled in various institutions offering agricultural courses all over the country for the school year 2015-2016. But the enrollment fell to 127,287 for school year 2016-217 and further went down to 100,922 for 2017-2018.
Angara said one way to boost the agriculture sector is by providing farmers better irrigation facilities, institutional credit, proper marketing facilities, and other farm subsidies needed to increase their productivity.
The lawmaker said that aside from infrastructure development, the Duterte administration can spearhead alongside its “Build, Build, Build” program an “agriculture revolution.”
“An agricultural revolution is necessary to help revive the agriculture sector and improve the lives of impoverished farmers, who belong to 60 percent of the country’s poorest,” he said.