Kiko wants relocation plan to include jobless

May 10, 2011

Marianne V. Go
The Philippine Star
May 10, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan suggested yesterday that the plan to relocate some 500,000 informal settlers in Metro Manila to agricultural lands should extend to those who are jobless and unemployed who are willing to work but can not find jobs.

Pangilinan said the plan to lease agricultural lands to informal settlers should solve the “ageing” problem of farmers, as younger Filipinos look for other opportunities rather than go into the agricultural sector.

“Over a million are jobless,” Pangilinan pointed out, citing the fact that Filipino farmers’ average age is 57.

“We need to encourage a new generation of Filipinos to go into farming and agribusiness,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan, who is the chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, has made the matter of food security, and elevating the status of farmers and fisherfolk in the country his top priorities.

He is working closely with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and the private sector on the Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 (AF2025) program.

AF 2025’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,” Pangilinan said.

He added that “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.”

Pangilinan said “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,” he warned.

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