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Massive agricultural investment to address farmer shortage

Rep. Wilbert Lee of the AGRI Party list stated on Sunday that the government must identify effective strategies to encourage the next generation to embrace farming to overcome an imminent farmer shortage.

The average age of Filipino farmers is 53 today, up from 46 in 1966, according to research by Florencia Palis, a retired professor of anthropology at the University of the Philippines, which Lee referenced.

According to the same study, these farmers have been at their jobs for 25 years.

Former Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar foresaw a “critical” lack of farmers in 12 years and issued a warning in 2021.

In addition, it was reported in the study “Aging Filipino Rice Farmers and Their Aspirations for Their Children” that farmers are actively discouraging their kids from going to agriculture courses in college.

According to a news release from Lee, “We have to show that we are undertaking serious and sincere efforts to improve agriculture so that the youth will not see it as a dead-end job.”

The congressman thinks that in light of the predicament, the federal government must “continue investing heavily in agriculture” to assist farmers in improving their standard of living and attract young people to work on farms.

According to Lee, “With improved agriculture, we also improve our farmers’ and other producers’ livelihoods and assist them in breaking the cycle of poverty.”

He stated that immediate action is required to improve the quality of life for farmers and fishermen, who are among the most underprivileged groups in society.

The sector of fishermen had the highest incidence of poverty, at 30.6 percent, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority’s 2021 data on poverty, followed by the sector of farmers, at 30 percent.

According to the congressman, the government still faces difficulty in reviving agriculture through modernization, which would move employment toward higher-value jobs like machine operators and other tech-related positions.

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