MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija: A study conducted by the Philippine Center for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) showed that most of the country’s farmers are getting older and warned of an eventual shortage of farm workers.
But efforts are afoot and are focused on getting the youth sector’s involvement in agri-business through equipment modernization and developing agribusiness.
In collaboration with the University of the Philippines Los Baños-Agricultural Mechanization Development Program (UPLB-AMDP), PhilMech’s study in 2014 reveals that farmers are above 40 years old.
“Most rice farmers were within [the]40-59 age bracket although a high percentage of farmers aged 60 and above was noted in Camarines Sur and Iloilo,” the study said.
The PhilMech and UPLB-AMDP study covered 13 provinces where rice is grown showing that many old farmers are no longer doing actual farm work and warned that “there would be a shortage of farm labor in the future if the agriculture sector does not get new young farmers.”
Last year, two studies, one done by PhilMech and UPLB-AMDP and another by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) entitled, “Benchmarking Philippine Rice Economy Relative to Major Rice-Producing Countries in Asia” also showed that Filipino rice farmers are among the oldest in Asia.
For the 2014 study, PhilMech is optimistic that more young people will be more interested in agriculture as more post-harvest and mechanization technologies are now available.
Rex Bingabing, PhilMech Executive Director, said the agency has developed new technologies for the country’s agriculture sector.
For example, he said, there are technologies for rice mechanization that would ease the drudgery that goes with rice farming by developing a tractor-mounted rice transplanter and mini-combine harvester.
He said PhilMech has also produced other technologies in which the youth can be involved as entrepreneurs in agriculture such as the coco water extraction-pasteurization system that can transform mature coconut water into refreshing energy drink.
He said the young farmers can also invest in cacao, cashew, soybean and coffee processing system or a multi-commodity solar tunnel dryer-based business enterprise.
“These agribusiness enterprises are good start-up for young agribusiness entrepreneurs as they require low level of investment,” Bingabing said.