Academe urged to beef up agri courses

FEWER FARMERS. A rice farmer in Balilihan, Bohol checks on her crops. National Economic and Development Authority 7 says the agriculture sector needs to find a way to make the younger generation interested. (SunStar photo)

THE National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7 is urging colleges and universities to improve their course offerings on agriculture-related programs to address the concern of aging farmers.

Improving the agriculture and fisheries curriculum is also seen to help boost the weak agricultural productivity of the country, said Neda 7 Director Efren Carreon.

“The interest to enroll in agri-related course is declining over time. The challenge is how to make this profession economically attractive,” said Carreon.

Agriculture and forestry in Central Visayas recorded a slower growth in 2018 from 9.4 percent (in 2017) to 1.1 percent. Fishing, on the other hand, rebounded from a contraction in 2017.

“While we are happy that fishing rebounded and grew by 3.3 percent in 2018, the entire agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing sector remains in need of utmost government attention,” said Carreon.

The Neda official noted that the thrust of the government is to introduce modern farming methods to farming communities, which means incorporating technology from pre- to post-production.

This way, he said, the younger generation will view agriculture in a different light.

The average age of farmers in the country is 57 years old. The Department of Agriculture (DA) earlier said the youth is no longer interested in agriculture.

“We are pushing the state universities and colleges to review their course curriculum that has IT applications so that this type of profession will become attractive to the younger generation,” said Carreon.

The Commission on Higher Education reported that 142,182 students were enrolled in various institutions offering agricultural courses all over the country for school year 2015 to 2016.

But enrollment fell to 127,287 for school year 2016 to 2017 and further went down to 100,922 for 2017 to 2018.

Meanwhile, Carreon said the agriculture sector is investing heavily in mechanization to increase and improve yields. Initiatives will be funded initially by the newly signed Rice Tariffication Law, which provides P10 billion in funding each year for six years to assist rice farmers,

Agriculture in the Philippines is one of the sectors struggling for a comeback, with some of the sectors saying it’s a dying industry, as agricultural lands are turned into commercial developments and farmers growing old.


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