The Philippines’ Decaying Agriculture Industry

I’m guilty. I’m blind. I’m unaware. I do not care. Barraged by my own adversities, vanities, fanaticism, goals, I forget about the bigger picture. Like the great dread of our plastic-impeded, corruption-riddled nation, a sector of our production is almost nearing its out mode, and that is Agriculture.

During the 90s, Agriculture has contributed up to 44% of the Philippines’ GDP, but today, it only accounts for 9.65%. We are losing tens of thousands of farmers every year. The age range of the current farmers in the country is 57-59 years old, respectively. The Department of Agriculture predicts that if this problem lingers, the Philippines would only depend on imports, or worse, we might be in a food crisis in 2050 (or earlier).

The youth is more interested in living in central cities, trying to live the urban dream, despite its chaos and uncertainty. Technology, advertising, glamour, parties, “higher salaries” are very tempting to them. There’s always this notion that it’s better to be “urbanized.” Children of farmers prefer to work in restaurants, fast food chains or malls. This is also because farmers only get 10-15,000PHP per harvest because of the middleman.

Climate change has also disrupted the once peaceful farming communities. Because of bad weather almost every year-round, farmers are barely even able to produce food for themselves. This is most notably apparent in Luzon and Visayas. Another factor is many farmlands are being transformed into urban or residential areas by land developers.

This is a huge concern for everyone. A small country like ours even cannot control the oil price hike. Apart from that, the evat and customs duties of imports have increased enormously. Now, what will happen if we cannot sustain ourselves with food? Many of us, even some people in the middle class, will suffer.

Thankfully, a group of tech enthusiasts and the Dept. of Agriculture have curated a series of events that can address this problem. TechUp Pilipinas, a group of tech companies, recently organized an Agriculture summit and U:Hack Hackathon, a contest in which several university students create an app that will solve agricultural problems and would be of help to farmers. The winners of the U:Hack got cash prizes and can pitch their technology-based solutions to investors.

This was the very first Tech-Up and event in Mindanao, and they are targeting the region because it is the region with the least typhoon occurrences. The event made a lot of people, including me, aware of what really is going on in the agriculture sector.

The agriculture industry’s decline is very alarming, given that we live in a country where there are ample resources, and it’s truly ironic that what used to make us attractive to foreign geopoliticians, which is our natural resources, is now becoming almost archaic. This is not to say that I favor foreign conquerors, but I just wanna point out how this industry turned into a 360-degree angle.

I now think that maybe we should go back to early civilization. My boyfriend suggested that it’s better to invest in lands instead of condominiums or travel and that we should learn how to plant. Maybe it’s also a great idea to learn how to ferment- if ever a crisis happens. What do you think?

Sources of info: TechUp Pilipinas press conference and Philstar.

The copyright-free images used in this blogpost are from Unsplash.

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