“I have 10 kids and more than 10 grandchildren but no one wanted to farm. They prefer to be construction workers in Manila,” related farmer Romeo Madrona, 79 years old from Kilicao, Daraga, Albay.

Madrona is one of the 800 rice farmers from Daraga, Albay who will be receiving certified rice seeds from Philippine Rice Research Institutute (PhilRice) during the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)-Seed Component Technical Briefing and 1st Seed Distribution held on November 27, 2019 at the Albay Farmers Bounty Village here.

Madrona will be receiving a sack of RC 222 to be planted in his half-hectare farm. This is his first time to use this variety.

Madrona wanted his children to inherit the farm but no one wanted to. He said, he is old and getting weak and he has no one to left the farm. But he just can’t let go of farming because it is like an exercise for him and his only source of living.

Same dilemma is being faced by Romulo Mendevil, 60 years old from Barangay Alcala. His children would not go into farming.

Madrona and Mendevil are just one of the many farmers whose average age is 57 and above.

The government is looking for ways to attract the younger generation to go into farming or take up agricultural courses. Efforts are being focused on getting the youth to get involve in agriculture, agri-business, or any farming activity.

The Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund is offering scholarships for students in agricultural schools, colleges and universities.

Moreover, the Department of Agriculture is trying to erase from their mindset that agriculture is hard and backbreaking with less profitability.

Farmer Jose Madala, 66 years old from Barangay Kilicao in Daraga, Albay is also worried as to the future of his farm. He said that it is hard to look for laborers since his age would not allow him to do strenuous farm work. Young laborers prefer to construction or janitorial work.

However, Madala is optimistic that there would be less farm work with the onset of the agri-mechanization program of the government especially from the Rice Tarrification Law.

According to DA-5 Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla, the Php5B fund from the Rice Fund will go to the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Modernization (PhilMech) to provide farmers with rice farm machineries and equipment. (jaysonmgonzales)