MANILA — The Department of Agriculture said that with younger people getting involved in farming and fisheries, there is a brighter future for agriculture.
Addressing the World Food Day celebration held on October 16 at the Liwasang Aurora, Quezon City Memorial Circle, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said in the baseline survey conducted by the DA’s Philippine Rural Development Plan, the average age of Filipino farmers and fishermen plunged from 57 to 47.
He added, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the average age of farmers and fishers was lower at 43.
“That means a lot of young people are now involved in agriculture,” Alcala said.
The Secretary said this may be due to the fact that DA employees really exert effort to go to the grassroots to give service, which resulted in better rapport between the DA and the farmers and fishermen.
He expects this new generation of farmers to embrace new technologies and mechanization.
“In Southern Luzon State University, there is a 280 percent increase in the enrollment in agriculture related courses,” Alcala added.
Every year, World Food Day is celebrated on the anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations founded in 1945. According to the FAO, the 2014 World Food Day theme – Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth” was chosen to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers.
During the celebration, the Secretary was evidently proud of what the DA has accomplished.
“Kahit kailan sa buhay ko, hindi ko po ikakahiya na nagtrabaho sa Kagawaran ng Pagsasaka at kayo ang aking nakasama. Kailangan po kayo ng pamahalaan, kailangan po kayo ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda ” he said as he addressed the crowd composed of DA employees.
“Ako po ay nagpapasalamat sa karagdagan nating kasapatan sa pagkain. In 2010, we were just 82 percent self-sufficient in rice, now we are 96 percent self-sufficient,” he added.
Alcala also thanked United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) country representative Lotta Sylwander and her FAO counterpart Jose Luis Fernandez for their help when the country was ravaged by typhoon Yolanda.
Because of their assistance, he said, 65 percent of the areas hit by Yolanda in the Visayas were able to replant after one-and-half months and have already harvested.
Thirteen Outstanding Rural Women were honored in the event. Five elementary students who won in the on-the-spot mosaic-making contest using various seeds were also recognized.
Alcala expressed hope that in the near future, the Philippines will export more and import less agricultural products.
He added, the time will come when the Philippines will be looked upon as a food producer.
“Dapat po natin isaisip na ligtas ang pagkain na dadalhin natin sa hapag kainan ng ating mga kababayan. Hindi lang po busog, kundi kailangan po’y malusog,” Alcala said.