Lawmaker warns of food crisis within 15 years
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - April 8, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A lawmaker warned yesterday of a “severe and irreversible” food crisis hitting the country in the next 15 years as more and more people are opting to live and work in urban areas rather than pursue agriculture as a means of livelihood.

Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas said many agricultural lands have been converted into industrial and residential estates, and the production capacity of the remaining farmlands is dwindling due to the damaging effects of climate change. 

However, he said that the biggest threat to the country’s ability to produce a sustainable food resource is the rapidly decreasing number of farmers and even fishermen.

He warned there might come a time when there will not be enough farmers and fishermen to sustain the country’s food requirement. This would force the country to rely more on imported food products, which in turn may lead to devastating food and financial crises.

“Nowadays, the younger generation doesn’t want to get their hands dirty. They would rather work night shifts as call center agents rather than work on farmlands. If we cannot stop this widening shortage of agricultural workers, there might come a time that we can no longer buy any fresh produce even if we have the money to buy them,” Treñas said. 

He said according to recent Department of Agriculture statistics, the average age of farmers in the Philippines is 57 years old. It estimated that the shortage for farmers might reach critical stage in the next 15 years.

He said the government should start setting into motion an actionable formula that would produce a new breed of Filipino farmers so that the country will continue to have people working in the farms.

For example, he said that the Department of Education (DepEd) should include in their curriculum subjects that fuel interest in students to take up agriculture and animal husbandry.

The lawmaker said the younger generation should be also taught that farming, when paired with high technology, could be more enjoyable and more financially rewarding than most professions.

He added that the Commission on Higher Education, in collaboration with the country’s state universities and colleges, should offer scholarships to the farmers’ children.

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