For a country that is heavily dependent on agriculture for its rice, vegetable, and fruit requirements, the drop in the number of Filipinos turning to farming as a source of livelihood has been greatly reduced.
Rep. Teodorico Haresco, party-list congressman eyeing a regular Congress seat in the forthcoming May 13, 2013 elections, made this observation, expressing deep concern on the dwindling number of Filipino farmers, especially among the youth, tilling the soil, warning this pattern can lead to the country’s food dependence on imports.
“I can totally understand why parents wouldn't want to see their children stuck in farms even if this had been their family's way of life for many generations because tilling the soil is hard work,” he explained. “It's hot, it's filthy and the pay is barely survivable.”
This unsettling development, in fact, is now apparent in many farming communities around the country where parents prefer their children to become minimum-wage earners at call centers than breaking sweat by planting palay (rice) and corn.
Given this situation, Haresco said there would come a time when there's not enough farmers to sustain the country's food production requirement, thus forcing the government to rely on imported agricultural produce to feed its population.
To obviate the trend, the lawmaker encouraged the government to “start setting into motion an actionable formula which would generate a new breed of Filipino farmers in order to guarantee that the country will continue to have adequate food supply.”
Apart from the shrinking farmlands for use in food production, Haresco said the Department of Education should intensify its campaign among elementary students to persuade them to pursue agriculture as a future career, especially at a time when there are agricultural breakthroughs that allow multiple harvests and multi-layered farms.
“Farming would no longer be as difficult as it is today because of technology,” he added, saying the government should also open more scholarship programs related to agricultural technology to ensure the steady supply of modern-day Filipino farmers.
The Philippines, ironically, is home to a number of world-renowned agricultural institutions, among them the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Agriculture, the Southeast Asian Fishery Development Council (SEAFDEC) and the International Rice Research Institute IRRI).