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A study of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhlRice) had recommended the indirect engagement of youth in rice farming as results revealed that farmers’ children care about the livelihood that had supported their family.

The study of Jaime A. Manalo IV titled, Really, they don’t want to farm?: Challenging existing orthodoxies on youth perceptions on rice farming in the Philippines challenged wide perception on youth wanting to leave the farm. This perception resulted in fears that the country might have a scarcity of future food producers.

Results gathered from youth in Aurora and Albay revealed that young farmers’ children have expressed desire to go abroad, but this does not disconnect them from farming as respondents expressed that they have “heart for the farming family and vision for the farm.”

Manalo, a development communication specialist, further said that many of his research participants wanted to be connected to rice farming in various capacities but actions are yet to be implemented for them to be actively engaged.

“There’s this belief that younger generation is not interested in farming, which resulted in almost zero efforts to engage the youth on rice farming. This needs rethinking as many of my research participants said, ‘Once a farmer, always a farmer,” Manalo emphasized.

He recommended that initiatives enabling youth to perform their tasks in school, while they remain connected to rice farming, must be crafted.

“We should regard youth as future rice farming investors. The educated youth could be employed as they will have the goods to finance the input-intensive rice farming operations. We need rice farming investors, and thus we need to engage the youth as early as now if we share this idea,” he stressed.

With the results, Manalo proposed that the youth be mobilized as infomediaries for farmers who would access information and communications technology (ICTs) for those who have anxieties in using the device and other ICTs. He said that this initiative will aid farmers in accessing information from the Internet that can help improve their yield and reduce cost in their operations.

“There is wealth of information from the websites of Department of Agriculture, International Rice Research Institute, and PhilRice. How will they access those information if they have to grapple with so many issues such as absence of a decent computer access points, and computer and functional illiteracy,” Manalo said.

Manalo further stressed that students must be aware that they can do something for their farmer-parents, and that farmer-parents should know that their children can do something for them.

The proposal to mobilize the youth as infomediaries for their parents, which was drawn from the findings of this study, can, if proven effective, serve as a new strategy in extension.

He added that more innovative extension strategies are needed to complement the 20,000 rice extension workers currently serving more than 2 million rice farmers.

This study, co-authored by Associate professor Elske van de Fliert of the Centre for Communication and Social Change at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia won the best paper award for the technology extension, dissemination and education category during the 42nd Crop Science Society of the Philippines Scientific Conference, April 16-21.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute