Saturday, September 20, 2014
MANILA-Senator Sonny Angara has filed a bill that aims to develop and strengthen the agricultural education and training in the country to encourage more Filipinos to become "agri-prenuers."
"Agriculture remains a sector most vital to the overall development of the country, not just as the main driver of food security but also as a source of livelihood. However, Philippine agriculture remains a burgeoning, rather than a flourishing sector, contributing immensely to chronic poverty and hunger," Angara said.
The senator cited data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics which showed that the average agricultural employment in the country has stayed only between 11 and 12 million from 2003 to 2013.
"Despite the significant number of Filipino graduates from agricultural-related courses, the field of agriculture is seen as less of a profession or business enterprise than a means to daily subsistence.
“Agriculture needs to be infused with an entrepreneurial spirit," he stressed.
Angara's Senate Bill 2384 or the Entrepreneurial Agricultural Education Act aims to address the need for agricultural entrepreneurship training programs especially in the rural areas.
"With this measure, the country will train men and women as agriculture entrepreneurs or agri-preneurs," said the lawmaker, who is a known advocate of educational reform.
SB 2384 aims to institutionalize an Agricultural Manpower Education and Entrepreneurship System (AMEES), and create AMEES Development School or Farm Business School in each administrative region, excluding the National Capital Region, in the country.
Under the AMEES, educational institutions or training centers will tie up with agricultural, industrial or business establishments to come up with a relevant and effective dual training system, which is a combination of in-school and hands-on training.
Moreover, under the bill, the AMEES will be promoted among poor farming families and out-of-school youth in the rural areas and in agrarian reform communities.
A trainee who has successfully completed a program in a particular agricultural, industrial or business establishment will be given priority of employment.
Agri-preneurship students will also be provided with funding as start-up capital for their farm business upon graduation.
"With the passage of this bill, we give due significance to farming as a way to eradicate hunger and poverty, provide food security and nutrition, improve livelihoods, and achieve sustainable development," Angara said.