The Philippines is known to be an agricultural country but now, it is losing its farmers. This is a worrying situation that may lead to problems for the country’s food security.
The country produces different agricultural products to serve its needs and exports them to other countries as well. Now, it is facing a grave problem of a depleting number of farmers. There are a lot of factors that affect this decreasing number. According to the University of the Philippines Los Baños, the average age of farmers in the country is 53 years old. “Assuming that average holds, we might reach a critical shortage of farmers in just 12 years or so,” William Dar said, Secretary of the country’s Department of Agriculture.
Farming is associated with Poverty
When you ask a Filipino about their perception of farmers, they will mostly say farmers are poor. Some learning materials of young students in the country portrayed farmers as poor or even inferior. This may be a reflection of the people’s general perception of farmers. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, a government agency responsible for gathering data, farmers, and fishermen garnered the highest poverty incidences, in a 2018 survey, at 31.6 and 26.2 percent respectively. This is a sad reality since farmers should have a decent, safe, and comfortable life just like other jobs. They are the one who ensures that the country has something to eat. They are crucial to our food security and they deserve a much better life.
Perception of farmers’ sons and daughters
Now, the sons and daughters of farmers do not want to continue farming like their parents are doing. They even prefer to go to a City and earn a degree to have a completely different career and abandon farming. Some even look for a minimum earning a job in an urban setting to get out from agriculture. Meanwhile, their parent farmers are left in rural places to continue farming. These farmers are now weaker due to old age. Old age greatly affected their productivity. This can greatly affect the overall production of agricultural products and food security in the country.
There are a lot of reasons why their sons and daughters don’t want to do farming. First, they see that jobs in the urban area are cleaner and nicer. Second, they perceived farming as a low income-generating job even at their early age. Third, they must obey their parents as part of the culture. This means that children are mandated to finish education in order to pursue non-farming careers for a better life. These are just some of the reasons.
Farmers discourage their children from farming
The younger generation is even discouraged by the farmers from doing farming. This move intensifies the younger generation’s avoidance of farming or agriculture. Some farmers share with their children that farming should be their least priority. They see that farming is hopeless in providing their families with a comfortable life. It is said to be a physically demanding but financially not rewarding job. Instead, they encourage their children to pursue a non-farming career through education. This might be a result of different factors like farms being frequently devastated by storms, low income or they don’t own their lands. Also, these farmers do not have enough education. The highest educational level of farmers is grade 5 on average. It means that it is somehow a challenge for them to learn some innovative farming techniques and the use of new technology. This adds to the urge of farmer parents not to let their children follow in their footsteps.
Farming should be given importance
Farming is regarded as a low-class job in the country. Some people look down on farmers because of the perception that they are doing one of the lowest-paying jobs. There is a study that suggests the higher the educational level of a person, the lower the possibility of that person will go into farming. This is somewhat ironic that education gives farming both positive and negative effect towards farming. Now, it is the challenge of the government and the people to change the public’s perception of farming. They should now focus on the country’s food security and address the current problems of agriculture in the country. Farmers should be renowned as modern heroes that keep us all well-fed.
The Department of Agriculture is now encouraging young and educated people of today to pursue agriculture. The threat of depleting number of farmers might be addressed, given that farmers will be given ideal working conditions for them to continue and pass to the next generation. The decreasing number of farmers might not be addressed unless an effective intervention or solution will be done.
“Our nation is in need of educated, talented public servants and leaders – especially in the field of agribusiness and food security. It is a vocation that I highly recommend for those who seek deep, personal satisfaction and who seek self-fulfillment,” Dar said.
Philippine Statistics Authority (2018). Farmers, Fisherfolks, Individuals Residing in Rural Areas and Children Posted the Highest Poverty Incidences Among the Basic Sectors in 2018. Retrieved from: https://psa.gov.ph/content/farmers-fisherfolks-individuals-residiNg-rural-areas-and-children-posted-highest-poverty
Saliot, A. (2013). Filipino Farmers - A Dying Breed?. IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis. Retrieved on October 7, 2021 from http://goo.gl/OgDmwM
DA Communications Group (2021). Future in agriculture takes spotlight in Ley La Salle’s Business Law Conference. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from: https://www.da.gov.ph/future-in-agriculture-takes-spotlight-in-ley-la-salles-business-law-conference/
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