The coun­try needs agripreneurs

Panay News - - MOTORING | HEALTH & BEAUTY - By Ch­eryl T. Tam­pos, Mas­ter Teacher I Don Yno­cen­cio A. Del Rosario NHS

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)

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