THE Philippines is a country with a large population, but with a growing neglect on agriculture. What once were agricultural lands are being developed into industrial arenas as the youth are attracted to the idea of the “American Dream” and the Filipino diaspora. In this modern era, does the power of agriculture lie in the engagement of the youth?
“Ang pagtatanim ay hindi biro.” Farming is viewed by many Filipinos as a dying profession wherein farmers earn way less than white-collar professions. The youth of today tends to be materialistic and aim to get rich in an easy, money-guaranteed instantaneous way, which is contrary to the elbow grease, hands-on demand of agriculture. Farmers are identified as one of the poor sectors in the country and as a result, the youth assumes that this section isn’t worth looking into.
According to the data from World Bank 1960-2016, the average value of the Philippines during this period was 21.36% with a minimum of 31.06 percent in 1974. The data shows that there is, indeed, a decrease in the percentage GDP contributed by the agricultural sector. This also supports the statement that the country’s agricultural sector is poor even if the Philippines is labelled as an agricultural economy.
Agriculture is fundamental for survival. It produces our daily needs from the food that we eat, fuel that we burn, clothes that we use, which are made of fiber crops, such as cotton, wool, silk, and other raw materials. Unfortunately for us Filipinos, our government seems to prioritize other sections of the industry such as theBPO industry. The Philippines now ranks as the “top outsourcing country” and will in all likelihood continue to maintain a high position in the Top 10 worldwide outsourcing destinations as stated in a post by Asean Briefing in 2017.
As we see an increase in the number of BPO companies in the country and an estimated promising future of this industry, we also observe a decrease in the government’s support for our farmers especially with regards to the current rice tariffication law. The act allows the entry of competition from other countries, leaving our poor farmers with absolutely nothing but misery the unrecognized efforts from their hard labour noting that no advanced technology was used.
According to an article by PhilStar Global, there are no good infrastructures such as farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, drying facilities and milling centres that are being developed by the government.With this, the youth would not want to be involved in agriculture when they see no future in it. They would not opt for an occupation whose present is a struggle and whose future is unclear.
Technological advancement is essential for development and the Philippine Agricultural sector lags behind when it comes to agricultural technology. According to an article from PhilStar Global, farming practices in the Philippines is outdated considering that the average age of Filipino farmers is around 57-59 years old.
Majority of the farmers cling to traditional practices with reluctance to use modern technology, making labor intensive and unsustainable. People rely more on things they are accustomed to, that is why farmers continue to use traditional processes and technologies.
The youth sees this as proof of the poor progress of the agricultural sector and uses it as a reason for their hesitance to engage in it. If we can encourage the youth to look towards this sector of the industry where they may apply their knowledge brought about globalization, modernity and the ability to easily understand technology, rest assured that there will be progress in the future.
These reasons stress the disenchantment of the youth in the agricultural sector and pave a risk to the food security of the country's growing population. If due attention is given to the agricultural sector, then the youth may gain interest and have a positive regard for the future of agriculture as well as their future engagement in it. If support from the government is present by enhancing the infrastructure and investing more on advance technologies that could help in the process of agriculture, there is a high chance that the youth would immerse themselves and help boost this section of the economy.