Old farmers, low income threaten food security, says senator

September 12, 2011

September 8, 2011

The Philippine government program on food security is threatened by ageing farmers and the unattractive income from farming, a senator said Thursday during the Senate finance committee hearing on the Agriculture Department’s 2012 budget.

“This is a fact that is looming over us for years now,” Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said. “The average age of our farming sector is now at 57 years, plus the fact that the annual income of ordinary farmers and fisherfolk averages P17,000. This could pose a threat to our efforts to achieve food security,” he added.

Modernization has influenced the mentality of the younger generation, most of whom have exhibited aversion to farming as profession, the senator observed.

The time has come for government to implement appropriate and timely interventions to make agriculture attractive enough for young people to pursue as a career and a profession, Pangilinan stressed.

One such measure is to develop strong links between farmers and markets, which ensures that small farmers have a ready market for their produce, according to the senator.

“We are trying to learn from the Thailand experience where farmers were forced to add value to their produce by having their (products)packaged in a way that is convenient and attractive to buyers. In this manner, they (farmers) were able to double their income,” Pangilinan said.

Estimates by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics place farmers at 11 million all over the Philippines.

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