Agriculture is not particularly popular a career path among the youth. It is not considered a lucrative profession, and there is a perception that those who go into it end up as a farmer burning under the sun in a remote farm.
A student organization in University of the Philippines-Los Baños aims to remove the stigma by promoting agriculture through various activities involving agricultural biotechnology.
For its unwavering efforts to promote and revitalize agriculture in the country, the University of the Philippines Genetic Researchers and Agricultural Innovators Society or UP GRAINS was recognized by Lenovo Philippines as an Outstanding Tech Visionary in this year’s Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) 15 awards held recently at New World Manila Bay Hotel.
TAYO, now on its 15th year, is considered the nation’s premier search for outstanding youth organizations that have created a huge impact in addressing the country’s pressing concerns.
The Lenovo Outstanding Tech Visionary award is a special citation given to the organization with the most meaningful project that addresses key issues through the innovative use of technology. Lenovo Philippines chose UP Grains for its Lakbioteknolohiya project.
“With their project Lakbioteknolohiya, UP GRAINS showed dedication and creativity in addressing the long-standing problem of the public’s lack of interest in agriculture. This is in line with Lenovo’s ‘Different is Better’ philosophy that is built around a fundamental belief that innovation is the best way to address challenges and embrace progress,” said Lenovo Philippines country general manager Michael Ngan.
Lakbioteknolohiya is an information and workshop drive held in high schools and communities where agriculture is the main source of income.
Most of the lessons taught are from UPLB’s curriculum, such as DNA extraction, Hydroponics, Plant Disease Diagnosis, and Fermentation Technology. Hands-on exercises on urban farming and agricultural biotechnology experiments are also included in the workshop, and all of these are geared towards improving agricultural production and maintain quality agro-environments.
“Because UPLB is the only school that offers a course in Agricultural Biotechnology, we took it upon ourselves to teach the masses the many benefits of agriculture and encourage them to engage in the practice,” said Albert Caraan, a member of UP GRAINS and the project head of Lakbioteknolohiya – Camarines Norte.
The first division-wide edition of the project saw members of the organization teaching in the province of Camarines Norte, where an estimated number of 300 students and teachers participated. After the project, Caraan shared that the participants used the knowledge that they obtained to conduct their own research and activities in order to help improve their region’s agriculture.
But for Caraan, the most important takeaway from the project is the renewed interest among the youth to take up agriculture in the future, both in college and as a career option.
“Seeing the students’ willingness to take up agriculture-related courses really made our day, as this has been objective ever since we began in 2014 – to promote agriculture in order to attain a very strong agricultural sector in the near future,” he enthused.
Together with the award, UP GRAINS also received P20,000 and a Lenovo laptop.