RED Gerundio as he explains the evolution of Agriculture for the past 50 years and the courses available for students who want to make a career in the said field.#Photo by Paulo Emmanuel Ajose, RAFIS, DA-MIMAROPA
Although there is an increase in food demand due to the rapid growth of population, lesser and lesser people are getting involved in the agriculture industry that is the primary source of food production. In the Philippines, the average age of Filipino farmers is 57 years old. A few years from now, the majority of these farmers will be retiring, and there will be lesser farmers in the country. It is also reported in 2015 that there was a 1.5% decline in the enrollment in agricultural courses. These situations pose a serious threat to the food security of the country.
To address the problems, the Department of Agriculture (DA) conducted an Information Caravan dubbed as Kabataan sa Agrikultura, Para sa Bayang Masagana that visits different regions of the country to attract the youth to be involved in agriculture.
In MIMAROPA Region, the Info Caravan was held at the Bulwagang Panlalawigan in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro on March 28 with around 800 students composed of senior and junior high school from Oriental Mindoro National High School, Managpi National High School, Mary Help of Christians School, City College of Calapan, and Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology.
Students listened to different topics such as the importance and evolution of agriculture for the past years discussed by the Regional Executive Director of DA-MIMAROPA, Dr. Antonio G. Gerundio, CESO III.
“Agriculture is the source of our food, clothing, shelter and a lot of raw materials used by different industries. Pero marami sa atin ang misinformed about what is happening in agriculture because some still have the notion that there is no money in agriculture and it is hard and dirty work,” he said.
He explained that there are now many courses offered under the agriculture major for students who want to make a career in the said field, unlike before there are limited choices. He also shared that farming nowadays is not a back-breaking job anymore because of the technological advancement adapted by the country through DA’s mechanization and modernization program.
“Youth today are very interested in the new gadgets and social media, but all of these things are used in agriculture,” he shared.
Currently, DA is also utilizing different kinds of information communication technology for marketing, mapping, monitoring, among others through the use of cell phone, drone, and various software application. The digitalization was further discussed by Mr. Joseph Pacon of Geomapping and Governance Unit of the DA-Philippine Rural Development Project.
Business Opportunities, Rice Production Technologies and Machineries, Scholarship Opportunities, and Involvement of Youth in Agriculture were also discussed in the one-day event.
Students listen to Renie Madriaga, Agriculturist II, of the Regional High-Value Crops Development Program as he discusses about Business Opportunities in agriculture. ###Paulo Emmanuel Ajose, RAFIS, DA-MIMAROPA
While Assistant Secretary for Special Projects Lerey Panes cited that the Philippines has been left out by other agricultural countries because the youth has been disconnected from agriculture. Thus, he challenged the students to change their mindset to make a difference for the country through being involved in agriculture.
“Sa agrikultura maraming pera dito kailangan niyo lang mag-isip. Challenge yourself; use your weirdness to change for the better. If you look at the history, our world changed because of weird ideas,” he said with also mentioning samples of different discoveries done by significant people in the past.
The topics discussed flicker the mind of the participants and opened their mind to the opportunities agriculture has to offer.
One of the students who gave her insight about the information caravan is an aspiring accountant, but despite her chosen course, she saw how an accountant could be involved in agriculture.
“Bilang Accounting and Business Major, nakita ko po na marami po palang business opportunities at pwedeng magamit ang agriculture at iba’t ibang aspects. At sa lawak ng sakop nito malaki ang influence nito sa ating economy,” said Jaira Marie Del Mundo, a senior high school student from Oriental Mindoro National High School (OMNHS).
The information caravan has also become a big help for students like Gideon Agleron and Zechariah Tolentino who are both aspiring agriculture engineer, also from OMNHS.
“Bilang isang kabataan na nangangarap na maging isang agriculture engineer, marami po kaming natutunan na magagamit namin in terms of application sa darating na panahon na pagdadaanan namin,” Gideon said.
“Natutunan ko po yung pag-determine sa iba’t ibang klase ng palay at natutunan ko rin kung paanu itong alagaan. Makakatulong po ito sa akin upang maalagaan ang aming bukirin,” Zechariah said.
While other students become more aware about the importance of farmers and their role in the community.
“Malaki po ang naitutulong ng mga magsasaka sa ating lipunan at nakita ko rin yung maari naming maitulong para mapaunlad ang agrikultura,” said by Verna Mae Alinsod and Millionita Amido from City College of Calapan and Managpi National High School, respectively.
Apart from the discussions, student-participants also enjoyed games related to agriculture as well as free goodies and food.
Students enjoyed were given free food, goodies and also enjoyed different gimmicks during their break time such as photo booth and games with different prizes. ###Photos by Denice Joelle Benosa, RAFIS, DA-MIMAROPA
DA hopes for at least 10% of the students-participants in each visited region were convinced to enroll in agricultural courses. For this year, the caravan reached six (6) Regions in the country which are Region II, V, XII, XIII, VIII, and MIMAROPA.