Ambrosio R. Villorente
Zubiri Asks DA, DOST:
Enhance Scholarships For Farmers
I would like to publish in full the advocacy of former Sen. Migz Zubiri on the choice of professional career among the Filipino youth today.
I believe in all what he said about the declining interest of Filipinos in Agri-business. Even the state colleges of agriculture are forgetting their mandate for which these colleges are organized. One college is Aklan State University. It is giving more importance to criminology degree rather than agriculture, to nursing rather than fisheries.
Meanwhile, Aklan is now importing more of its food requirements like chicken meat and eggs, beef and pork. It is importing more fruits and vegetables and even flowers. Here is former Senator Zubiri’s advocacy:
Senatorial candidate Migz Zubiri calls on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to grant more scholarships to children of farmers and students who really want to work as farmers and to manage farms to become profitable.
“Our farmers are getting old and very few young people, even farmers’ children, are not keen on farming. They have seen, how, despite the great efforts of their elders, the farms don’t give them higher incomes. So they asked, why go into farming at all?” said Zubiri who recognized the quandary faced by the young rural population.
Likewise, the disappointment of Agriculture and Agri-Business graduates who cannot find stable work at the Agriculture Department and its attached agencies due to current human resource hiring policies.
“The country’s food security is at risk as children of retiring farmers are not keen on taking over. And, only the large farm corporations, many foreign-controlled, are gaining young talents. It has also come to a point that caring for golf course grasses provides huge incomes compared to farming food crops or working at the DA.”
Zubiri, an Agri-Business Management graduates at the University of the Philippines – Los Banos, said the DOST has been granting scholarships in science and technology courses in public and private universities but these programs “hardly reach the intended target students or lack convincing power.”
“The DA and the DOST should show our youth that food crops farming can provide dependable income stream and job security,” Zubiri said.
Zubiri noted that farming in the Philippines can barely support a family. According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, a farmer’s annual average income is about P20,000. “This is embarrassingly low compared to neighboring countries where farmers are considered entrepreneurs and businessmen,” Zubiri stressed.
The DA data revealed that the average age of our current farmers is 57. Many of these farmers are small landholders, tilling an average of 2.5 hectares.
“If this problem is not addressed, our food security situation will be very dim, especially if we take into account that climate change poses more serious challenges to farmers,” Zubiri said.
“Among the many crops that will suffer declining yields are rice, corn, coconut and sugar that provide staple food supplies and basic food processing ingredients,” Zubiri pointed out.
Zubiri stressed that the DA should exert greater effort in coordinating with schools and review existing agriculture curriculum, training and research as a way to boost productivity and eliminate poverty among farmers. /MP