Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday said there is a need for a concerted effort from the government and various stakeholders to make agriculture more appealing, especially among young people.
“Number one, I would like to make agriculture more desirable and profitable. And secondly, I will try to reintroduce agriculture to the next generation,” Cayetano said in ‘Halalan 2022: Para sa Agrikultura,’ an online forum organized by Bayanihan sa Agrikultura, a network of nearly a hundred agricultural organizations in the country.
Arguing that not all farmers end up in poverty, Cayetano said the education sector and the media can be tapped to show the profitability of agriculture, which, in turn, will increase the sector’s appeal.
The former Speaker said the Department of Education (DepEd) should pursue a five- to ten-year plan that will promote agriculture among the youth.
“If you ask young people now, very few will say na gusto nila maging magsasaka or mangingisda (that they want to be farmers and fisherfolk),” he said.
“All politicians will say na sila ang nagpapakain sa’tin pero sila ang nagugutom (that they are the ones feeding us and yet, they themselves are hungry). It’s absolutely true but it’s becoming a cliche,” he added.
The portrayal of farmers in the media also plays a crucial role in the public’s perception of the agricultural sector, he said, citing how some provinces have used telenovelas to promote positive news about agriculture to counter negative stereotypes.
Moreover, Cayetano said the national government should increase funding for the agricultural sector and implement a more “integrated and comprehensive approach” to improve agricultural production in the country.
In 2021, the former Senator pushed for the establishment of model agricultural communities that seek to fund, train, and give incentives to farmers who participate in more than one form of agricultural activity.
The program, however, was not fully implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Cayetano has also been advocating for the creation of a direct stimulus program that will provide P10,000 in cash aid to pandemic-stricken Filipino families, including farmers.
The online forum was moderated by Ernesto Ordoñez, president of the Agribusiness and Countryside Development Foundation of the Management Association of the Philippines.
The former Speaker was joined in the forum by fellow senatorial candidate Sorsogon Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero.
Joining Ordoñez were panelists from the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Federation of Free Farmers, Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines, and Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association.