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PH faces shortage of farmers

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) has warned that the country faces the prospect of a shortage of farmers, with the population of agricultural workers now reportedly aging.

TESDA director general Joel Villanueva said there is a need to create a steady pool of workers in the agriculture sector considering that the average age of our farmers is around 50 years old.

“This means our farmers are aging and soon, there will be a dearth of farmers in the country, Villanueva said.

To avert this scenario, Villanueva urged teachers and students nationwide to become involved in agricultural training and take active interest in organic farming instead.

Villanueva said the agency has various courses in place that can tap and hone the Filipinos’ skills in farming and other agricultural activities towards the path of getting into green-collar jobs.

“TESDA supports agriculture and believes it is a very important sector, which contributes to the sustainability of the country. We have to make sure that every Filipino has access to sufficient, safe and healthy food on the table,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva emphasized the need for sustainable agriculture in ensuring food security during the graduation ceremony of the training on organic-based vegetable production participated by 219 teachers from Tarlac.

Green-collar jobs have emerged in the international scene to generally mean the path to a cleaner, more energy efficient future. For the agriculture sector, it means veering away from the use of pesticides, insecticides and other artificial fertilizers to grow food.

Villanueva said organic farming has become one of the fastest growing segments of the agricultural sector in the western markets.

“There is a growing preference for organic food because of the reported negative impact of pesticides and insecticides and the use of artificial fertilizers. More and more consumers are now looking for producers they can trust,” he said.

The TESDA chief acknowledged, however, that the shift to organic farming is not easy, and that agricultural workers should be prepared to make some initial sacrifices.

“One cannot expect the same level of productivity from organic farming with that of  traditional vegetable farming, which usually happens during the years of conventional conversion.  However, experiences have shown that yields rebounded when the conversion period ended,” he said.

Villanueva added that highest returns are assured since the cost of organic production is lower than chemical-based production.

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