In response to the current trend of younger generations leaving the agricultural sector, a lawmaker has introduced a bill that aims to encourage and support young farmers.
In filing House Bill 9329, or the Magna Carta of Young Farmers Act of 2023, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte said his bill seeks to give incentives to young farmers.
“The Philippine Statistics Authority [PSA] reports on the employment drop in the agricultural sector, accounting for a total employment fall of 24.5 percent, or 9.7 million, in October 2020, 24.6 percent [10.77 million] in October 2021, and 22.5 percent [10.60 million] in October 2022,” Duterte said.
Citing a 2020 study by former University of the Philippines (UP) Anthropology professor Florencia Palis, Duterte said the average age of a Filipino farmer is 53, suggesting a potential shortage of farmers in the next 12 years.
His bill aims to formalize the Magna Carta to protect the rights of young farmers, covering aspects such as food security, education, training, and land access.
“Considering the consistently high poverty incidence rates in the agricultural sector, the shift out of the sector will continue, and food security will be endangered if the recuperation of the sector is not given the utmost priority.”
He added that agricultural development initiatives should extend beyond increasing production and subsidies, emphasizing the need to “incentivize” the youth who are opting for more lucrative professions in urban areas.
“The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) attributes the long-term movement of workers out of agriculture to the correlation between average daily basic pay and level of education, which tends to be stronger in other sectors than agriculture.”
The proposed legislation also includes the establishment of the National Young Farmers and Fisherfolks Council, which will serve as an advisory, recommendatory, and consultative body to ensure the success of programs and activities for young farmers.
Additionally, it suggests ensuring equal access to quality education and training and encouraging partnerships with state universities and colleges (SUCs) for technology transfer. Graduates with an agriculture and fisheries specialization under the K–12 curriculum would be eligible for scholarship grants in related courses at any SUC.
The bill also aims to ensure that young farmers are given equal access to farm technologies and mechanization; ensure innovation, development, and proliferation of young farmer-friendly technologies and mechanization in agricultural production and processing; equal access to formal sources of credit and capital, including forms of clean loans and mortgage, redemption, and insurance; and an equitable share of the produce of farms and aquatic resources.