By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Deputy Speaker and AAMBIS-OWA partylist Rep. Sharon Garin asked on Thursday the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to expedite the passage of a bill urging young people to pursue careers in agriculture.
The House leader cited the need to establish the Agricultural Manpower Education and Entrepreneurship System (AMEES) to encourage more students, particularly those in rural areas, to pursue career paths in agriculture and develop and strengthen the agricultural education and training in the country.
“The younger generation is veering away from agri-related courses because agriculture is often equated with poverty and underprivileged status. That should not be the case. It is time we equate agriculture with opportunity and prosperity. Not only will this bill promote agriculture as a viable and versatile career option, but it will also create breeding grounds for the agri-preneurs we need,” she said.
Citing a 2013 study conducted by Manalo and Fliert among children of rice farmers aged 13 – 21, she noted that 39 percent of the respondents have unfavorable perceptions of agriculture and saw farming as anti-beauty, a difficult task to perform, and a not so glamorous venture.
House Bill 3354 or the proposed Entrepreneurial Agricultural Education Act seeks to encourage the application of manpower development for agricultural entrepreneurship in agricultural, technical, and vocational education and training, starting at the post-secondary level.
The measure provides that each administrative region shall establish an AMEES Development School or Farm Business School.
“A ladderized system of agricultural entrepreneurship education in the post-secondary level shall be established in both public and private educational institutions or training centers, following the completion of the Rural Farm School curriculum as provided in Republic 10618 of the Rural Farm School Act of 2013,” Garin said.
Under the bill, the completion of the program shall culminate with the conferment of a Diploma in Agricultural Entrepreneurship. Upon graduation, the students will be provided with funding as a start-up capital for their farm business. Financial services and programs shall be made available to them as stipulated in Republic Act 10000 or the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act of 2009.
“The partnership between public, private, and voluntary sectors is also a crucial component of the AMEES in both academic content and in on-the-job or hands-on training. We hope to tap Private Public Partnership for manpower development for the agricultural sector,” the deputy speaker said.
House Bill 3354 tasks the Career Management and Development Division (CMDD) of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) of the Department of Agriculture to plan, set standards, coordinate, monitor, and allocate resources in the implementation of the provisions of the proposed Act.