AGRARIAN Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes has emphasized the need to strengthen the social and financial capital in the agriculture sector to win back the youth into farming, now manned by aging people in their late 50s.
Various studies, De los Reyes said, point to the fact that the average age of Filipino farmers is 57, which goes to show that most of the youth have shunned tilling the soil as a profession or business undertaking.
“The best way of getting our youth back into farming is to show to them that they can get money out of it,” De los Reyes stressed in his speech at the “Social Business Summit 2014” held at the Gawad Kalinga’s “Enchanted Farm” in Angat, Bulacan recently.
The DAR chief, however, stressed that this could be attained if the farmers would be able to develop their social capital by forming themselves into a cohesive organization, which, in turn, would help enhance their financial capital through easy access to credit.
He explained that most financing institutions prefer to deal with a credible farmers’ organization rather than with individual farmer because it is easier to deal with one group compared to a number of individuals.
De los Reyes said the government has established production credit assistance program, with insurance package, for this purpose to enable the farmers to have starting capital for farm inputs and protect them from possible losses in case of calamities.
“One major requirement of this credit assistance is for our farmer-beneficiaries to organize themselves into a credible organization,” he said.
De los Reyes added that it is also vital to teach farmers how to plant and show them what to do to make farming more profitable so that the youth might consider taking a second look at it as a profession.
He explained that the government has linked up with the academe and business sectors to provide farmers new farming methods to enhance farm productivity and offer value-added schemes, like processing their raw products into finished product to increase their market value.
“Being an organization brings a lot of opportunities to our farmer-beneficiaries. It helps them purchase farm inputs at much lesser cost, while giving them the opportunity to transact business with big business firms in need of raw farm products,” De los Reyes said.
He explained that the ability of a farmers’ organization to buy by bulk enables it to purchase farm inputs for its members, like seedlings and fertilizer, among others, at wholesale prices, which an individual farmer could not avail himself of because he only buys for his own needs.
De los Reyes added that an organization of farmers could plan ahead what crop to plant to meet the volume requirements of a big business firm that it had transacted with to be its supplier of raw farm outputs.