Picture of Joeven C. Calasagsag
DA seeks younger generation of farmers in Bicol
by Joeven C. Calasagsag - Friday, 26 August 2011, 04:04 PM
balita.ph; August 23, 2011 10:11 pm

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 23 – Bicol needs younger generation farmers to take over farms being left idle by those that have been overtaken by old age, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“The number of aging Bicolano farmers is inevitably growing while the number of their younger counterparts is drastically falling. This situation is taking its toll on the productivity of the region’s agricultural sector that so far has not been able to draw love from the youth,” DA regional executive director for Bicol Jose Dayao said here over the week.

As a consequence, Dayao said more and more farm lands are being left idle as the elderly retires from attending to them due to disabilities without transferring their commitment, farming skills and techniques to their next generations.

Roughly 30 percent of Bicol’s more than one million workforce in the farm and fishery sectors are already senior citizens with ages ranging between 60 and 80 years old while only a significantly small number of young, unskilled men are showing inclination towards farming.

Majority of these young people from the barrios prefer working in cities and other urban centers as they find farming a less dignified craft, the DA regional chief said.

The present situation is not yet very alarming however, as the region agricultural manpower, backed up by government support and the development of modern farming technologies can still manage to sustain the sector’s productivity and even achieving remarkable growths but Dayao said “we need to anticipate based on the prevailing trend that is leading to farm workers shortfall”.

Bicol had nearly one million hectares of agricultural lands whose larger portions are devoted to the production of rice with a total of nearly 155,000 hectares; coconut, 651,571 hectares; and corn, 107,000 hectares. The rest are into vegetables, root crops, abaca and pili and other fruit trees plantations, he said.

“For rice alone, we were still able to produce about 1.3 million metric tons last year and seeing significant growth this year. The coconut sector manned by over 290,000 farmers, on the other hand remains steadfast in its production of about 2.2 billion nuts per year that is 21 percent of the national total production,” according to Dayao.

Meanwhile, of the region’s 99 municipalities and seven cities, 94 cover a total of 1,067 coastal barangays that make fishery a major industry involving about 50,000 fishermen is still accounting for an average yearly production of 280,000 metric tons from commercial, municipal and aquaculture fisheries, Dayao said.

This sector too is already being confronted by shortage of manpower due to aging fisherman population, he said.
One remedy to avert an imminent shortage of agricultural workers in the region and eventually food scarcity, he said is to make agriculture-related courses in colleges more attractive to students “so that we are able to produce young graduates that would go back to the barrios after graduation to fill up the vacancies that would be left by their retiring parents”. [By Danny O. Calleja (PNA) (LAP/LQ/DOC/cbd)]

Source: DA seeks younger generation of farmers in Bicol

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