The country needs agripreneurs
JUST last night, we heard from the news the plea of the nation. To solve the growing rice shortage issue that the country is going through, the government has to triple its efforts in providing the needs of our own farmers so that instead of importing our staple food abroad, we actually source them out from our own farmers. What I think is that we no longer need just farmers. We need agripreneurs, t he next generation of farmers. Agripreneurs are the entrepreneurs of agriculture. Our farmers from back in the day are just concerned of tilling the land, selling it to market, go home, rest and till the land the next day. These farmers see the decline of sale, because they never work to improve production. They either lack resources to fund a better production, or don’t know other means, or hesitant to try other means to grow production. If there are farmers who think and do otherwise, these are farmers whose agripreneurs spirit is alive in them. But their numbers are very few. Every farmer needs to realize that they should come together and act against the farming challenges.
According to research, the average age of Filipino farmers is 57 years old. They are not getting any younger becomes receptive of new innovations. The youth on the other hand is not as excited about farming because it is not a viable source of income. But actually it only takes both the farmers and the youth of today that a new generation of farmers is needed to ensure the country’s food security. Also, this perspective needs to be embraced.
Farming and fishing, despite our vast rice fields and that our country is comprised of 7,107 islands during low tide, sadly and consistently show in the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) research among the highest poverty incidences in the country at 34.3% and 34% respectively just in 2017. This coincides with reports that the gross receipts from planting rice only averaged at P67,436 per hectare in 2016. Of this amount, the net return only averaged at P19,811 per hectare. For every peso of investment in palay production, rice farmers earned an average of P0.42. According to the same report, corn farmers grossed an average of P34,664 per hectare and netted P12,366 per hectare.
These figures can be disheartening, particularly to those who till an average farm area of only 1 hectare. According to a PSA report released in 2015, about 98 percent of the total farms/holdings in the Philippines in 2012 were 7 hectares and below. Of these, 3 in every 5 farms/ holdings were below 1 hectare, with an average area of 0.28 hectare per farm/ holding.
If our government, the Department of Education, in particular can only strengthen its K-12 curriculum particularly the Technology and Livelihood Education track, we can teach agriculture subjects to high- school students that will make it easier for them to go into “entrepreneurial farming” or “agripreneurship.” This venture requires the government’s firm resolve to help the current breed of farmers transition into “agripreneurship and to develop the youth’s interest in farming.” Farmers must be given access to credit, capacity training, and links to manufacture and trade, initiatives that cannot be done without financial support from the government. The Duterte administration has shown its resolve in fighting the drug menace. It is hoped that the same resolve will be seen in helping farmers become productive agripreneurs, after all, the farmers are the original backbone of our country. ( Paid article)