We should pause for the call of a legislator in the House of Representatives on her colleagues to push forward the passage of a bill encouraging students to take up courses in agriculture and fisheries.
Rep. Sharon Garin of AAMBIS-OWA said the enactment of the Young Farmers Program Act which she filed would encourage the youth to go into farming or fishing by providing incentives for students in these courses in both public and private tertiary institutions.
In the view of Garin, a deputy speaker, the Philippines, a basically agriculture economy, is witness to the extinction of its farmers first-hand “in a time where ensuring food security is proving to be a herculean challenge.”
This runs parallel to the fears of, if observation by, many, who include Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba of Ilocos Norte’s 2nd District, who has been designated head of a technical working group, that having fewer people engaged in agriculture will negatively affect the country’s food security and self-sufficiency.
There are anxieties regarding the declining interest of the youth to work in the agriculture sector, with the youth shifting their employment preference from the farm and fisheries sectors to jobs in the urbanized cities.
These concerns should invite the government to revisit its current programs on agriculture and to put in place relevant interventions to energize the interest of the youth towards the agriculture and fisheries sectors.
At the same time, we call on the Professional Regulation Commission’s Board of Agriculture to nudge the government to assist graduates of agriculture and fisheries courses to find jobs relevant to their academic disciplines.
We note the observation of parliamentary specialist Patrick Velez of the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization that labor migration in the agriculture and fisheries sectors is “a real problem.”
Garin’s statement deserves a re-quote: “We want the youth to immerse themselves once again in the noble practice of agriculture. There is a need to reinforce the idea that it is a viable career option. We must dispel the notion that farming is tedious, unsustainable, and unglamorous. Indeed, the timeless Christian proverb ‘the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few’ has become more relevant than ever.”
Her statement should echo from Tawi-Tawi to Batanes.