To win back the youth into farming, the government and private stakeholders should help strengthen the social capital and financial support structure for agriculture, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said.
Citing various studies, DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said that most of country’s young have shunned “tilling the soil” as an occupation, noting that the average age of Filipino farmers today is 57.
“The best way of getting our youth back into farming is to show to them that they can get money out of it,” De los Reyes said in his speech at the Social Business Summit 2014 held at the Gawad Kalinga’s “Enchanted Farm” in Angat, Bulacan.
The DAR chief stressed that this could be attained if the farmers would be able to develop their social capital by forming themselves into a cohesive organization, which, in turn, would help enhance their financial capital through easy access to credit.
He explained that most financing institutions prefer to deal with a credible farmers’ organization rather than with an individual farmer because it is easier to deal with one group than with a number of individuals.
De los Reyes said the government has established a production credit assistance program with an insurance package to enable the farmers to have starting capital for farm inputs and protect them from possible losses in case of calamities.
“One major requirement of this credit assistance is for our farmer-beneficiaries to organize themselves into a credible organization,” he said.
De los Reyes added that it is also vital to teach farmers how to plant and show them what to do to make farming more profitable so that the youth might consider taking a second look at it as an occupation or business.
He explained that the government has linked up with the academe and business sectors to provide farmers new farming methods to enhance productivity and offer value-added schemes, like processing their raw products into finished products to increase their market value.
“Being an organization brings a lot of opportunities to our farmer-beneficiaries. It helps them purchase farm inputs at much lesser cost, while giving them the opportunity to transact business with big business firms in need of raw farm products,” De los Reyes said.
He explained that the ability of a farmers’ organization to buy in bulk enables it to purchase farm inputs for its members, like seedlings and fertilizer, at wholesale prices which an individual farmer could not avail of because he only buys for his own needs.
De los Reyes added that an organization of farmers could, for example, plan ahead what crop to plant to meet the volume requirements of a big business firm that it had transacted with as its supplier of raw farm outputs.