05/29/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/28/2021 19:40
Author: DA Communications Group | 29 May 2021
The Department of Agriculture (DA) will continue to train and empower more young 'agri-preneurs' to take the reins from aging farm-leaders, help attain food security, and push Philippine agriculture into the future.
'Since the start of the pandemic, the youth has been providing new perspectives, demonstrating entrepreneurial leadership, and mobilizing new movements that are proving beneficial to farm, fishery, and agribusiness sectors in the countryside,' said Agriculture Secretary William Dar during the 2021 National Food Security Summit (NFSS), on May 18-19, 2021.
'To further bolster their drive and enthusiasm, we will provide them the much-needed support, like credit, capacity- building, and post-graduate scholarship, among others, to make agriculture not only as a viable, steady source of income, but more importantly to make agriculture their lifetime passion and career,' the DA chief added.
At the food summit, leaders of the youth, farmers, fishers, rural women and agribusiness groups, in their virtual message, cited the various support that government should provide them.
'To encourage fellow young ones to join in the agriculture sector, government should implement conducive and farmer-friendly policies, and provide incentives and market opportunities,' said Ricmel Falquez, president of the National 4-H Club of the Philippines.
The 4-H Club is a rural youth organization, whose thousands of members have been benefiting from the various programs of the DA, from capacity-building to accessing business capital.
Since the lockdowns last year, Falquez said dozens of 4-H Club chapters have established community gardens in various barangays nationwide. They also held a series of online seminars to encourage more youth to join 4-H and be actively involved in agriculture, fishery, and livelihood projects.
For his part, Jim Leandro Cano, chairperson of the Youth Alliance for Zero Hunger, highlighted the importance of integrating youth-inclusive policies into the national goal of food security and prosperity of farming and fishing communities.
'We should make sure that there are mechanisms to allow the youth to be involved in the food systems. They should have access to the resources,' Cano said.
He emphasized that the youth should be informed and made aware of the key processes that drive food security for young people to be able 'to give their voice and free to discuss their opinions and options.'
Meanwhile, from a farmer's perspective, addressing the gaps in infrastructure was underscored as a key element in building a sustainable agriculture sector.
'We, farmers, can produce more food if there are more farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, and post-harvest and processing facilities,' said Rebecca Purisima, a former Gawad Saka farmer-awardee from Camarines Sur.
She called on the DA to continue offering scholarships to attract more young people into agriculture. 'In doing so, we will have more technical experts and partners in our goal to elevate the agriculture industry,' she added.
In his speech at the NFSS 2021, Secretary Dar, highlighted two DA initiatives that have gained traction, namely Mentoring and Attracting Youth to Agribusiness (MAYA) program and Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs (KAYA).
'Given the youth's technological intuition and dynamism, we are banking on them to steer Philippine agriculture towards the age of digital and smart technologies. This strategy will definitely put the sector on a path of more resilient growth,' Secretary Dar said.
The DA's MAYA Program is a 24-week internship that aims to make entrepreneurs and future leaders out of young Filipinos. Meanwhile, the KAYA loan program offers credit of up to P500,000 to borrowers aged 18 to 30 years old. The financial assistance can be used by start-ups or agribusinesses and is payable in five years without interest.
For its part, the DA's Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) continuously implements youth-focused programs, such as the 'Educational Assistance for the Youth: Degree Courses in Agriculture and Agricultural Biosystems Engineering' (EAsY Agri) and the Digital Farmers Program (DFP).
The EasYAgri aims to encourage and provide opportunities for young people, particularly children of smallholder farmers and fishers, to pursue a degree related to agriculture.
The DFP, on the other hand, aims to bridge the 'digital divide' among agriculture stakeholders by tapping the youth and capitalizing on their technological capabilities to teach older farmers new technologies via digital agriculture. ### (DA-ATI and DA StratComms)