DA-PhilRice boosts agri efforts via youth education

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is strengthening efforts to encourage the youth to engage in agriculture.

In partnership with two clubs of global volunteer organization Kiwanis International, the PhilRice will establish and maintain a campsite at the FutureRice Farm in Nueva Ecija province in a bid to attract the younger generations to get involved in farming, noting that most farmers at present are already ageing.

Glenda Hufano, governor of Kiwanis International-Philippine Luzon District, said on Friday that the project aims to educate children not only about rice but also to raise them to be progressive and entrepreneurial food producers.

"The campsite will provide an engaging, educational alternative to malls and digital entertainment. Campers can try farm adventure games such as kayaking and obstacle races while learning about rice technologies including farm machines, digital apps, and renewable energy," Hufano said in a news release.

She noted that at the FutureRice Farm, campers will see high-yielding rice varieties and experience farm automation and diversified farming.

Hufano cited the need to engage the youth in agriculture as aeging farmers pose a threat to food security.

Citing information from the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture, she said that with the typical age of Filipino farmers falling between 55 and 59 years old, experts have forecast that the Philippines will confront a critical decline of farmers in 10 to 12 years.

"There is a need to re-engage the youth in agriculture. We need to encourage the younger generation to view agriculture as a viable business venture," she added.

Kiwanis International will also co-sponsor the annual ceremonial harvesting at the Rice Garden in Rizal Park, which was established for urban dwellers, especially the youth, to appreciate the importance of rice to the country's culture, nourishment and economy.

This partnership builds upon earlier initiatives between Kiwanis International Philippine Luzon District and PhilRice supporting farming communities under the Rice Business Innovation System Program.