The Department of Agrarian Reform challenged agriculture graduates who became land beneficiaries to share their skills and knowledge with farmers to help enhance food security programs.
DAR Secretary John Castriciones presented yesterday certificates of land ownership awards to 44 new graduates of agriculture-related courses from schools recognized by the Commission on Higher Education.
“I hope that because you have studied agriculture, you have gained knowledge on techniques and modern technology on farming,” Castriciones said.
The beneficiaries, awarded with three hectares at the most, are from Cagayan and Palawan. They are landless and their parents must not be applicants or beneficiaries of other agrarian reform programs.
They must also be residents of the municipality where the land is located. Children from poor families were prioritized.
“Finally, we were able to distribute land titles to our agriculture graduates. Now, they are not only agriculture graduates but also farmers with their own lands,” he said.
Castriciones noted it is unfortunate that many Filipinos, even farmers themselves, often look down on the agriculture sector.
Parents would rather have their children take up other courses, such as engineering, accounting, medicine or law.
There is no interest in farming anymore, he lamented.
Statistics showed that the average age of Filipino farmers is 57 years, thus the need to strengthen food security.
“After 10 years, can they still till lands? Fewer students are taking up agriculture. If that trend continues, who will till our lands?” Castriciones said.
What the country needs now are farmers, not more lawyers, or the country may face a shortage and a weak agricultural sector, he said.
Executive Order 75, signed in February 2019, ordered the identification of government-owned lands suited for distribution.
“Under EO 75, some 230,000 hectares of land are available for distribution to farmers and that includes agriculture graduates,” Castriciones said.
The DAR is hopeful that through the program, younger and more able Filipinos would be inspired to take up agriculture.*PNA