The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of food security, food-related business, self-sufficiency and urban farming. Today, farming and agriculture have become viable business opportunities known as agripreneurship.
This concept proved to be a major draw among the younger generation to invest in a future in agriculture and fisheries-related enterprises. Giving access to dialogues and decision-making relevant to the agriculture and fisheries sector is the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries’ (PCAF) Agricultural and Fishery Youthpreneur Council (AFYC).
As one of PCAF’s Advisory Special Bodies, the AFYC is among those who drive the agri-fishery decision-making process, through the participation of the youth in the identification and formulation of innovative and sound policy recommendations and influence the sector’s policy environment.
“The Filipino youth is a key driver to ensure the attainment of a food-secure and resilient Philippine agriculture, leading to a better performing economy, today and in succeeding years,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
Aging farmers pose threat to food security
The findings in the study, “Aging Filipino Rice Farmers and Their Aspirations for Their Children,” conducted by Florencia G. Palis of the University of the Philippines Los Baños showed Filipino farmers are aging fast and more than 65% of interviewed farmers do not wish for their children to follow their footsteps. Thus, posing a threat to food security in the country.
Encouraging the younger generation to view agriculture and fisheries as viable business ventures requires information dissemination, training and empowerment.
“We have numerous projects in the Department of Agriculture (DA) to support students and young agripreneurs to start their agri-fishery enterprise and realize their aspirations. Aside from these, the youth engagement in agriculture, like the AFY, is also one of the key strategies we are implementing under the ‘OneDA Reform Agenda’. ” added Sec. Dar.
Youngbloods in Philippine agriculture
While most of the Philippines’ food is produced by aging smallholder farmers in developing countries, older farmers are less likely to adopt new technologies needed to sustainably increase agricultural productivity, and ultimately feed the growing world population while protecting the environment. There is a need to re-engage the youth in agriculture.
Through the AFYC, interested youth as well as youth organizations engaged in agriculture and fisheries activities, can have a voice in shaping and defining the future of the agricultural sector, through crafting sound policy recommendations.
The Youth Council aims to (1) involve the youth as primary actors in the agriculture and fishery decision-making process, (2) serve as a venue for the participation of the youth in the identification and formulation of innovative policy recommendations, (3) open more opportunities for the youth as envisioned in the food secured Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolk, and (4) influence the agriculture and fisheries policy development agenda as the youth Advisory Special Body.
Qualified to join the Council are young agripreneurs, members of the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development in the Philippines, members of the Volunteer Leader’s Association of the Philippines, Young Filipino Farm Leaders Training Program scholars, awardees and winners of agricultural awards, agricultural and fishery youth organizations in the value chain, youth organizations registered at the National Youth Commission, and 4-H Club leaders who are 18-40 years old.
The youth only have the potential to participate in farming, but also to bring with them a wide array of innovative ideas and thinking that will have a profound impact on the industry.
Bringing these bright young minds into agriculture and fisheries will help solve the problem of food insecurity and global hunger as they aim to shift from traditional sources of food production to modern means of producing it and making agriculture even more efficient and sustainable.