Press Release
August 7, 2015

Villar: Sustain interest of youth in agriculture through education

Sen. Cynthia Villar said education and focused training courses are needed to attract young bloods and bring fresh ideas to agriculture.

During the 2-day workshop called "Youth as Agri-Entrepreneurs: Strengthening Agricultural Youth Organizations for Poverty Reduction," Villar said the belief that there is dwindling interest in agriculture among the youth is false.

"I have talked to students and youth leaders in various parts of the country and I can say that there is still adequate interest on agriculture. We just have to keep that interest going. We have to keep their desire to get involved in agriculture alive," Villar said.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food acknowledged that Filipino farmers are getting old with the average age of 50-plus, which is another reason why we should have younger farmers.

Villar said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has allotted 500 million pesos for agricultural training of 45,000 scholars. She also continues to pursue access to agricultural training opportunities for the youth through the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF).

"We are however still looking for more schools or educational institutions to include agriculture-related modules in their course offerings. Andun na ang budget at scholarship, ang mga eskwelahan na lang ang kulang at mga agri courses," she said.

The Nacionalista Party senator said through the courses, farmers and their children or family members will learn basic knowhow such as operation and maintenance of modern machineries, farm management, financial literacy, accounting, and entrepreneurship among others.

"The availability of agriculture-related scholarship grants combined with the implementation of the Youth Entrepreneurship Act of 2014 - the inclusion of entrepreneurship as a separate subject in secondary education no doubt provide the much needed boost in our campaign to produce more youth as agri-entrepreneurs," Villar said.

The workshop was initiated by Villar SIPAG (Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance) with the Department of Agriculture Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) held in Pulang Lupa Uno, Las Pinas.

Around a hundred youth leaders from different parts of the country attended the event, who are current vice presidents of the 4H Club of the Philippines, also known as the country's young farmers.

Among the speakers were USec. Edel Guiza; Engr. Renato Dela Cruz, OIC/Deputy Director of the Partnerships and Accreditation Division of ATI; and Dr. Robert Hawkins, McSilver Associate Professor in Poverty Studies and McSilver Faculty Fellow at New York University.

"I believe that technological innovation and entrepreneurial mindset will not only propel the agriculture sector to greater heights, it can also attract the younger generation to agriculture. The youth as well as the existing farmers can be agri-entrepreneurs, too," Villar said.

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