For food security: House bill piques pupils' interest for agriculture, fisheries

A party-list congressman wants elementary and junior high schools to implement programs and activities that would help students develop an inclination toward agriculture, fisheries, and ecology, among other things.

KABAYAN Party-list. Ron Salo

For this purpose, KABAYAN Party-list Rep. Ron Salo filed House Bill (HB) No. 6769, or the proposed Agri-Scouting Act.

Salo said that the measure aims to empower the youth to learn the importance of agriculture, fisheries, forest and marine conservation and management, and ecology.

It also prods young Filipinos to take a proactive stance in environment conservation and climate change resiliency, discover the fundamental concepts of proper food nutrition, and be acquainted with modern farming, fisheries, and food production methods.

"It is our aspiration that the learning process would instill in their young minds a sense of wonder that leads to awareness and initiative and a desire to engage in agriculture, fisheries, forest and marine conservation and management, and ecology. It is hoped that this will contribute to our collective aspiration of achieving food self-sufficiency," noted Salo.

The veteran lawmaker noted that the Philippines--an agricultural country--should put a premium in the development of the agricultural sector as it directly affects the economy and the quality of life of its people.

However, the Philippines has a low food productivity despite its abundant natural resources, Salo pointed out.

"It is quite concerning that low food productivity has now become a national issue. To illustrate, in the 2020 report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), the Philippines recorded the highest number of food insecure people in Southeast Asia in 2017 to 2019, with 59 million Filipinos suffering from moderate to severe lack of consistent access to food. These findings were even recorded before the pandemic," he underscored.

For the purpose of carrying out the objectives of the measure, the Department of Education (DepEd) is mandated to integrate Agri-Scouting as a program in the elementary and junior high school under the K-12 curriculum in all public and private schools in the Philippines.

The DepEd shall also directly supervise and control the program implementation of the said act.

"The inspiration behind this bill is the success of the boy and girl scouts movement in the Philippines since 1938 whose training program prepares the youth for responsible leadership and nation-building. We aim to inspire and move young people to take leadership roles with a strong emphasis on agriculture, fisheries, forest and marine conservation and management, and ecology-related training programs," Salo explained.

"Our youth have so much potential to address long-standing challenges, especially in food security. This is one of our ways to maximize that potential so they can truly contribute to society in the immediate future and for the generations to come," he concluded.