Press Release
August 21, 2020

Pangilinan lauds new agriculture students org, says youth can positively change sector

THE Agriculture Students Association of the Philippines (ASAP), a confederation of agriculture students from 11 colleges and universities all over the country recognizing the urgency of promoting agriculture among the younger generation, was launched Friday.

At the online launch, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, who is a vegetable farmer and an advocate of farmers' and fisher folk's welfare, stressed that the youth are catalysts for change in the agriculture sector.

"This is a laudable undertaking. This is an organization that needs to be supported and needs to become successful if we are to turn agriculture around in the country and modernize agriculture finally to address poverty and our security," Pangilinan said.

"Kayong kabataang estudyante ang catalyst for change sa sektor ng agrikultura. Kayo ang magmamana ng mga ginagawa namin ngayon ni Sec. Willie sa hanay ng agrikultura. Matapos siguro ng ilang mga taon, ipapasa na namin sa inyo at kayo naman ang magtutuloy ng aming simulain. Kayo ang magmamana ng mga pagsubok at hamon sa kung paano natin babaguhin ang landas ng agrikultura sa ating bansa," he said, referring to Secretary Willie Dar.

Lou Zarcal, of De La Salle University and an ASAP founding member, said that the organization was created to provide a platform for the youth to discuss important issues, innovations, and recommendations that are pivotal for sustainable agriculture development.

ASAP seeks to establish a network of advocates committed to agricultural development.

Agriculture Secretary Dar, who was also at the online launch, said that the organization is a "formidable platform to entice and encourage the younger generation to agriculture and agribusiness."

"We need to harness the potential and strength in you because we need to make Philippine agriculture competitive. Ito ay labanan na between and among nations and that's why tayo dapat iangat na natin ang pag-asikaso sa agrikultura and we need the younger generation to take the lead, said Dar.

The agriculture secretary also highlighted the importance of the tech- and innovation-savviness of the youth in making Philippine agriculture competitive.

JT Solis, co-founder and CEO of Mayani, said "it is very important for the youth to participate not just because of continuity but because of the potential to bring agriculture to the next level through technology because we're digital natives when it comes to technology."

Mayani is an impact-driven agri-food supply chain platform that currently connects over 1,000 farmers to more than 5,000 consumers in the Philippines.

Pangilinan, who was Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization in 2014-2015, said ageing farmers and lack of youth engagement in farming are among the challenges faced by the sector.

He said that farmers are considered "endangered species" because the average age of farmers range from 57-60 years old.

"Kung hindi na tayo susunod sa yapak ng mga 57-60 years old na farmers, sino ang magtatanim? Saan natin kukunin ang kakainin natin sa pang-araw-araw kung ayaw nang magtanim ng bagong henerasyon na mga kabataang Pilipino? There is no security if a new generation of Filipinos don't want to go into farming. That will all lead to hunger and poverty," Pangilinan said.

At present, ASAP is composed of students from De La Salle University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines-Sta. Mesa, University of Santo Tomas, Cavite State University-Main Campus, Central Luzon State University, Mariano Marcos State University, University of the Philippines-Los Baños, Cebu Technological University, West Visayas State University, Central Mindanao University, and Western Mindanao State University.

Reginald Magcalas, of UP-Los Baños and co-founder of ASAP, said, "Itong organization ay magbibigay sa atin ng boses. Panahon na para tayong mga kabataan ay maging parte ng usapin ng agrikultura kasi tayo ang future ng agriculture. It is high time para makialam tayo."

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