Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan today says that the government’s plan to relocate some 500,000 informal settlers in the metro to agricultural lands should extend to those who are jobless and unemployed who are willing to work yet do not have the opportunities.
In an interview, President Benigno Aquino says the plan to lease agri lands t informal settlers should also solve what Pangilinan says is an ageing and close to being extinct number of farmers in the countryside as more and more Filipinos look to other opportunities than the Philippine agricultural sector.
“Over are a million are jobless,” Pangilinan says. Our farmers’ average age is 57. We need to encourage a new generation of Filipinos to go into farming and agribusiness.”
Pangilinan, who is the Senate Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, has made the matter of food security and elevating the status of farmers and fisherfolk in the country top priorities in his work as senator in the 15th Congress, working closely with the Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala. Along with the private sector, Pangilinan and Alcala convened the Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 (AF2025). AF2025 ‘s goal is to craft a long-term program that would address issues hounding the country’s agricultural and fisheries sector.
“We need to create a core of young people and turn them into ‘farmtreneurs’ willing to go into farming and agribusiness and boost rural development and create jobs in the agriculture and fisheries sector. Instead of leaving the country to be employed abroad, we should encourage the jobless and unemployed to leave the urban centers and go into farming in the rural areas.”
“Creating a new generation of ‘farmtreneurs’ is key to achieving food security. Without a new generation of young farmers, we undermine the nation’s goal of ensuring adequate food supply for our people.”
“At an average age of 57, our farmers are an endangered species needing immediate government intervention. When we lose our farmers to call centers or jobs overseas, we lose our capacity to secure our food requirements.”