By MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR
The Philippine government is seting aside billions of fund to get young students and aspiring entrepreneurs venture into agriculture sector.
As a start, the Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), is offering an initial P2 billion that young students and entrepreneurs can borrow to start any agriculture, fishery, and agribusiness venture.
The fund will be divided to implement two lending programs, namely the Young Agripreneurs Loan Program (YALP), and Micro and Small Agribusiness Loan Program (MSALP), with an initial budget of P1 billion each.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said this is the government agency’s way to attract the younger generation of Filipinos to be key players in attaining DA’s vision of a food secure Philippines while having prosperous farmers and fishers.
“We have to replace aging farmers with younger blood – our Pinoy millennials – who are the future of Philippine agriculture,” said Dar, who also chairs the ACPC governing council.
Based on a 2017 survey of the DA, the average age of farmers in the Philippines today is 60 years old.
Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) Agricultural Indicators System report on Population and Labor Force also showed that countrywide, the number of people who were employed in agriculture in 2018 totaled to around 10.0 million.
The sector indicated a declining share of 24.3 percent in the country’s total employment.
In 2018, declining agricultural employment was reported in most regions. Across regions, agricultural employment remained biggest in Western Visayas but the numbers also declined to 970,000 in 2018.
In the regions of Cagayan Valley, Bicol Region, Northern Mindanao and SOCCSKSARGEN, agricultural employment ranged from 707,000 persons to 776,000 persons, while in CAR, MIMAROPA Region and Caraga, less than half million persons were employed in agriculture.
National Capital Region posted the least employment in agriculture at 26,000 persons.
The latest Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed that in rice alone, the declining numbers of farmers have already started to take a toll on the Philippines’ total palay production.