Rep. De Venecia inspects his integrated demo farm in Aramal, San Fabian.
Magna Carta of Young Farmers pushed in Congress
Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) - December 1, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Pangasinan 4th District Rep. Christopher De Venecia has again filed a bill seeking a Magna Carta for the youth to promote and protect the rights of young farmers.

The National Economic Development Authority has endorsed the proposed measure for immediate passage into law.

“I strongly believe that the government should encourage young people to engage in agriculture by establishing mechanisms for the promotion and protection of their rights, given the fact that the average age of Filipino farmers is 57-59 years old,” de Venecia said.

The Magna Carta of Young Farmers recognizes the strategic role of young farmers by providing a policy framework that will afford them a sense of pride so that they will opt to stay in the farms, make a decent living from agriculture and secure the food sufficiency of the country. Also, it is designed to strengthen existing and state-of-the-art farming activities, and provide incentives that will encourage the young agricultural graduates to venture into agriculture and become ‘agri-preneurs’.

 The bill also proposes how the young farmers and fishers will gain access to market, prices, services provided by the government, and new technologies such as online businesses, telecommuting and online procurement

 It will also institutionalize young farmers’ representation in various decision-making and agricultural policy-making bodies initiated by the government and private sector.

“By lending its gravitas to this cause, I thank the NEDA for its high-level advice to my fellow policy makers to pass the Magna Carta of Young Farmers immediately,” de Venecia said.

As the country’s premier socio-economic planning body, NEDA is considered the authority in macro-economic forecasting and policy, analysis and research.

During its recent briefing in Congress in line with the midterm socioeconomic blueprint, the Philippine Development Plan, NEDA deputy director general Rosemarie Edillon eyed at least a dozen bills, including the Magna Carta of Young Farmers, as priority legislations in the last three years of the Duterte administration to boost economic growth

De Venecia first filed the bill at the House of Representatives in the 17th Congress.

In an earlier interview with The STAR, De Venecia said the enrolment trend for agricultural courses used to be 51 percent in the 80s at the University of the Philippines (Los Baños). But this went down to two percent.

“That’s the capital of agricultural learning and many from our neighboring countries go there to study,” he said.

He said there are interventions made by the Department of Education by offering agricultural tracks for senior high school plus the introduction of the school gardening program in elementary grades “yet the enrollment is still low”.

De Venecia said the Magna Carta of Young Farmers would stipulate the rights, privileges and recognize young farmers as a separate basic sector that should be focused on.

He said one physical measure introduced under the Magna Carta for Young Farmers bill is to exempt young farmers from donor’s tax but the lot they would inherit from their parents also has a safeguard by preventing them to sell it, not for at least another five years.

“The point is to let them continue the legacy of farming as it is very much part of our culture as an agri-industrial country,” he said.

The bill is widely supported by various stakeholders, NGOs like Task Force Mapalad Katarungan, Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka , Asian Farmers’ Association, a network of various farmers’ organizations across 10 Asian countries, and the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation Inc., among others.

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