THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has sounded the alarm that the country may suffer from a “critical” shortage of farmers in just 12 years due to declining employment in the agriculture sector worsened by aging farmers.
Speaking to aspiring young lawyers and law advocates, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar emphasized the role of the youth in innovating and developing Philippine agriculture.
“I am always especially pleased when educated young people show an interest in agricultural development and the future of Philippine agriculture,” Dar said during Ley La Salle’s Business Law Conference held recently.
“We of course recognize that the youth have most to gain from this future-oriented development agenda,” he added.
In his speech, Dar shared that a recent survey of the University of the Philippines in Los Baños showed that the average age of the Filipino farmer is around 53 years old.
“Assuming that average holds, we might reach a critical shortage of farmers in just 12 years or so,” he said.
The number of employed Filipinos in the agriculture sector sank to a 24-year low in 2018 at 9.998 million, the lowest since 1995 based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data available. Of the total number, about 7.75 million were male while the remaining 2.248 million were female, PSA data showed.
“As Secretary of Agriculture, I am committed to providing opportunities for the youth to ensure they are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also agents of change, reform, and agricultural modernization today,” the agriculture chief said.
“Our nation is in need of educated, talented public servants and leaders—especially in the field of agribusiness and food security. It is a vocation that I highly recommend for those who seek deep, personal satisfaction and who seek self-fulfillment,” Dar added.
Dar noted there are about 30 million young Filipinos between the ages 10 and 24 in the country, accounting for 28 percent of the total population.
During the forum, Dar presented the DA’s programs aimed at attracting the youth to venture into agriculture, which include loan and mentoring programs.
Dar shared the Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs (KAYA) loan program which offers zero-interest loans of up to P500,000 payable in five years for young agri-preneurs, specifically those who are 18 to 30 years old, and are graduates of either formal or non-formal schooling.
He also presented the Mentoring and Attracting Youth in Agribusiness (MAYA) program, a 24-week internship program that seeks to develop young Filipinos into agri-fishery entrepreneurs or train them to become future leaders in the agriculture sector.