Press Release
April 26, 2016


With the country's breed of farmers reaching retirement age, Sen. Grace Poe is looking into providing seed money to young farmers and new graduates to encourage the youth to go into modern farming.

The average age of farmers and fishermen in the Philippines is 57--a cause for alarm as the country struggles to achieve food security. It is time for youth-led agri-business models, Poe said.

"The lack of a younger workforce poses a serious challenge to the country's food security. Children of farmers saw their parents struggle throughout their lives and therefore have this notion that only poor people go into agriculture. That perspective should change," the independent presidential candidate said.

Poe and running mate Sen. Francis Escudero are bringing the platform of their "Gobyenong may Puso" to Isabela today, along with their senatorial bets.

Isabela is the country's top corn producer, hosting Asia's largest post-harvest corn processing facility. It is also the second biggest rice producer, with a rice sufficiency rate of 224 percent; the surplus supplies the rice requirements of the rest of Luzon.

Poe said the government should raise a new generation not just of farmers but of agri-preneurs who are able to employ modern technology and develop new agriculture models that could boost yields and productivity in the face of extreme weather events.

In order to encourage this, Poe said she will push for the enactment of the Senate Bill 1282 or the Tulong Kabataan sa Agrikultura at Kabuhayan Act of 2013, which she authored. The bill will institutionalize a scholarship program for high school graduates who are interested to pursue careers in agriculture management and agri-entrepreneurships.

"This is one way to entice the youth to transition from 'job seekers to job providers' while boosting the rural economy and ensuring food sufficiency," Poe said.

The agriculture sector employs an estimated 12 million people, making up 33 percent of the country's labor force, according to the 2012 Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. However, 60 percent of the country's 26-million poor also come from the agriculture sector.

Poe's "Gobyernong may Puso" has committed to allocate P300 billion to the agriculture industry to provide free irrigation, build more farm-to-market roads, create more climate-resilient harvest facilities, and fund research and development.

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