Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya!

Technology-based farms key to attracting new generation of farmers — DA chief

Author: DA Press Office | 3 July 2024

Technology is poised to revolutionize Philippine agriculture, paving the way for increased productivity and profitability while attracting a younger generation of Filipinos to till the lands, Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. said.

Speaking at a forum organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sec. Tiu Laurel underscored the urgent need to modernize agricultural methods to cater to aging farmers and stimulate sustainable economic growth.

Despite employing nearly one-fifth of the Filipino workforce, agriculture contributes less than 10 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Sec. Tiu Laurel said that the sector, which once employed a quarter of the population, now faces serious challenges due to an aging farming population, with the average age of Filipino farmers now pegged at 56 years old.

“The big challenge we face is making farming profitable,” the DA chief asserted during the forum. “The solution lies in embracing technology-based farming methods.”

Sec. Tiu Laurel pointed to successful local innovations in Hermosa and Dinalupihan, Bataan, where advancements like small water impounding systems, fertigation techniques, and drip irrigation have revolutionized crop production. These technologies have shown potential to significantly reduce fertilizer use by up to 70 percent and cut water consumption by 30 percent, thereby optimizing resource efficiency and lowering costs for farmers.

Looking ahead, the agriculture secretary expressed interest in scaling up agricultural practices through large-scale greenhouse facilities, inspired by South Korea’s extensive use of such technology across 52,000 hectares. In contrast, only 500 hectares in the Philippines are currently dedicated to greenhouse farming.

“I am committed to personally investing in testing these greenhouse technologies before endorsing widespread adoption,” Sec. Tiu Laurel affirmed, highlighting his dedication to ensuring practical and effective modernization of the agricultural sector.

Drawing inspiration from Vietnam’s successful agricultural policies, which include subsidies and guaranteed earnings for farmers through credit and crop insurance, the DA chief stressed the need for similar supportive measures in the Philippines.

Sec. Tiu Laurel said there is also a need for a paradigm shift in agricultural education. He said focus must be on comprehensive training in modern farming techniques instead of traditional methods he referred to as “Bahay Kubo technology.” He stressed the importance of equipping landowners and tenants alike with the knowledge needed to maximize productivity and income potential.

In terms of financial support, he called for increased access to government-backed loans facilitated by the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, which has so far disbursed only P100 million out of P600 million available funds.

Sec. Tiu Laurel underscored the significance of robust crop insurance coverage to mitigate risks for farmers, thereby fostering confidence in adopting new technologies and sustainable practices.

Looking forward, the DA chief expressed optimism about the transformative impact of these initiatives on Philippine agriculture, envisioning a future where technology and innovation propel the sector towards enhanced productivity, profitability, and global competitiveness.

The four-year plan crafted by the team of Sec. Tiu Laurel envisages increasing agri-fishery production by increased  mechanization, improvement of post-harvest systems and infrastructures, development of efficient logistics systems for input and production output, expansion of market access, digitalization, and  strengthening partnership with farmers, fisherfolk, and the private sector

The strategies outlined mark a strategic shift towards modernization and sustainability, positioning Philippine agriculture as a cornerstone of economic growth and food security in the years to come. ###

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