“Something has to be done to retain as many young people as possible in the agribusiness sector which consists not only in farming but also post-harvest, supply chain and logistics (e.g. cold storage), and food processing, among others.”
The whole nation must remain focused on this biggest challenge to our sustainable and inclusive growth, which is our low agricultural productivity, the result of a persistent inability of our government to invest in farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, post-harvest faculties and all other resources needed by the farming sector to be productive.
We, however, have to make sure we don’t forget the human resources that are needed to attain high agricultural productivity. If we don’t watch out, farmers are a dying breed.
… We need to establish training centers to form agribusiness technicians among the Filipino youth, especially among the children of farmers, but not limited to them. We should be able to convince some children of middle-income families that farming and the related agribusiness activities can be both financially rewarding and dignified. The “plantitos” and “plantitas” who mushroomed in urban centers during the pandemic should be able to inspire some of their children to get into high-value farming. Urban farming can make a significant contribution to food security.
National Artist Ryan Cayabyab is lending his support to family farm schools located in Batangas… These two family farm schools are dedicated to inspiring the youth to continue using their God-given talents in improving agricultural productivity, our greatest economic challenge then and today. Going beyond farming skills, these schools provide holistic agripreneurship education. Incorporated into the curriculum of the senior high school (Grades 11 and 12), following the TESDA track, are academic subjects and on-the-job experiences in advanced farming techniques and business principles to properly run a farm or a small agribusiness enterprise.
The business executives and other professional people who are supporting these family farm schools are actually trying to meet at least three of the so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are food security, zero hunger and quality of education.
The Family Farm School model is relatively a new form of technical education in the Philippines. It was fitting that the first two schools would begin in Batangas, an agribusiness hub of Southern Tagalog which has the advantage of proximity to the biggest food market in the country which is the National Capital Region. Batangas not only has a tradition of producing high-value food products like fruits, vegetables, livestock and poultry (the province will host the largest poultry project in Asia, a partnership between Cargill and Jollibee). It is also a trading center for the surrounding islands like Mindoro and Masbate for fruits like calamansi and saba banana and livestock like cattle. By encouraging the multiplication of family farm schools like Dagatan and Balete, we will be able to avoid the serious manpower shortage that is currently being faced by the entire construction industry (including the Build, Build, Build program of the Government).
In his article,” Increasing Supply of Agribusiness Technicians,” Dr. Bernardo Villegas shares the means by which we can help boost Philippine agriculture, one of which is with the help of the Family Farm School model – a new form of technical education in the Philippines that aims to encourage the youth to continue venturing in the agribusiness sector.
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