Solon alarmed over diminishing number of farmers

AGRICULTURE is literally a dying sector. As such, there might come a time that the country would no longer have enough food production to feed its growing population.

This after Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Sarmiento revealed that the country is losing at least one percent of its workforce in the agricultural sector every year.

“This is very alarming. We are losing not hundreds but tens of thousands of work force involved in food production every year,” he said.

 

Declining Number

He raised fears after he found out that an average of .53 to 1.39 percent of workers are opting to work away from the farm and instead trying their lack in other fields from the years 2013 to 2015, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

He pointed out this to the declining number of the youth who pursue careers in agriculture as they would rather work in call centers and do odd jobs in fast food chains and department stores.

Also according to studies in 2013, there were at least 31 million male and female Filipinos involved in agriculture, but this shrank to 29.1 million in 2015.

It was also reported that the age of the average Filipino farmer is 57.

 

Shrinking Agricultural Lands

“This means that at least 1.92 million Filipinos who used to contribute in food production have passed on or have moved to other forms of livelihood in just two years,” the Visayan lawmaker said.

At the same time, he expressed concern over the shrinking agricultural lands which have been converted either for residential or industrial purposes, thereby reducing significantly the country’s production capacity amid threats of climate change.

“The country will definitely plunge into a severe food crisis within 20 years. We should reverse this pattern before it is too late,” the Congressman said.

 

The Solution

Sarmiento suggested that it is time to perk up the interest of the youth to go into farming by increasing educational subsidies and scholarships for students who want to pursue a career in the agricultural sector.

He added that agricultural colleges and universities should also be modernized to allow the country’s new breed of farmers to learn the world’s most advanced technologies in agricultural production.

Agricultural courses and related fields should be fully subsidized to encourage the sons and daughters of farmers to carry on with the profession of their parents

“We should start dismantling the stigma that farming is hard, dirty, financially unrewarding and suited only for the uneducated. In other countries, farmers are highly respected and very well off,” Sarmiento said.

The Congressman also discussed that it is also time for farming industry to be modernized so that farmers will never need to look for other ways to earn money and to achieve food self – sufficiency.

“We have an oversupply of nurses, teachers, criminologists and IT professionals and they mostly end up in call centers or they go overseas. 

On the other hand, the people who toil our soil are rapidly disappearing. We should start reinvigorating our agricultural profession,” he  stressed.

 

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