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How can we redefine and revitalize Philippine agriculture? This was the challenge and opportunity of the first ever Leaders and Entrepreneurs in Agriculture Forum – LEAF 2018, held on September 29-30, 2018 at Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay.  LEAF is  a global forum, convening local and international powerhouse of leaders in agriculture, dedicated for our agriculture sector, for the Filipino youth, and to everyone linked with the nexus of everything: FOOD.
As a young Filipino working in our agriculture sector, attending LEAF 2018 was a transformative learning experience for me. I have always been hopeful for our agriculture sector, despite of all its challenges. The message and keypoint of LEAF is:  “youth are the gamechangers of agriculture”.  Cherrie Atilano, Executive Director of LEAF 2018, made it a buzzword that “we should make agriculture sexy”. I am hopeful that the Filipino youth can do it,  because we are flexible, critical, and all of us are creative geniuses.

We have succeeded in branding our country to be “more fun”. Now, it’s high time to redefine our agriculture sector to be “more sexy”. Our agriculture workforce is ageing. Average age of a Filipino farmer is 57. And most of us today, do not see the potential of our agriculture sector. We leave behind the untapped resources in our rich countryside. Making our agriculture sector “more sexy”, means doing more to make impact in this sector, to make it the gamechanger once again, to leave behind a legacy that’s inclusive and timeless.

LEAF presented three key areas that the Filipino youth can work on to redefine and revitalize agriculture. These are agripreneurship, agritech, and farm tourism.

Agripreneurship is the GOAT
If there’s a goat (greatest of all time) in agriculture, it would be agripreneurship. Agripreneurship is the integration of agriculture and entrepreneurship, and is more sexy than business as usual.
Youth can truly bring out their creative genius in agripreneurship. Agriculture is timeless, and food never runs out of style. Being a young agripreneur is a sure shot.
Filipino youth taking the lead in agripreneurship, on-farm and off-farm, is a gamechanger, a revolution.
Here are some keypoints on agripreneurship from the local and international experts of LEAF:
  • “3Ms: Mentorship, Money, Market, with confidence and mindsetting that we can be successful, are keys to transform our agriculture sector.”  Joey Conception, Go Negosyo
  •  “Create companies at rural level, invest on human resources, and build rural development.” Helianti HilmanJavara Indonesia
  •  “Inclusive business model that focuses on meeting volume, quality, and timeliness.” Gisela TiongsonJollibee Group Foundation
  • “Farming that is high quality, high yield, sustainable and environment friendly, super super low cost, and knowledge that belongs to farmers.” Rei Yoon, Soil and Soul Movement
  • “We need more social enterprise business models that aim for sustainability and not charity.” Steve Benitez, Bo’s Coffee
  •  “We must understand the links in agriculture and collaborate with the right partners.” Johan Boden, Tael Partners
  • “Incentivize agriculture immersions in SUCs, and communicate agriculture researches for impactful change.” Dr. Danilo Abayon, Agricultural Colleges Association of the Philippines
  • “Youth should engage at every level of agriculture, through creating viable agro enterprises.” Monci HinayWWF-Philippines

In agripreneurship, we are our own leaders. We create value across the food value chain. We create impact.

Agritech on fleek

Agritech is perfect for the Filipino youth, as it offers us to do more with less. Our generation today, aside from being the “foodie generation”, are digital natives. We spend a lot of time online. We are also well-versed, and can easily adopt with new technologies.

According to a United Kingdom-based consultancy We Are Social, the Philippines topped the world’s social media usage, as the number of internet users in our country hit 67 million people. Overall, Filipinos spend 9 hours and 29 minutes a day on the internet. Why not use our time and effort being online, to align our agriculture sector as our country’s gamechanger? Why not leverage our being tech-savvy, to make agriculture thrive in this age of disruption, making it more sexy?

Here are some keypoints on agritech from the local and international experts of LEAF:

  • Dr. Dileep Guntuku of Iowa State University is encouraging everyone, especially the youth, to leverage on social media and ICT as a tool to develop agriculture. Moreover, development of sound-based and text-based applications for localized agriculture learning can be helpful for rural farmers.
  • “Engage youth in agriculture through conference learning, hackatons, and pitchfests.” Amor Maclang, Geiser-Maclang Marketing Communications
  • “Maximize Facebook and Digital marketing in redefining and adding more value to agriculture.” Elizabeth Hernandez, Corteva Agriscience
  • “Youth can look into digital revolutionized learning, and lead scalable digital solutions in agriculture.” Paul Voutier, Grow Asia

One challenge and very important point in Agritech, is to develop digital and tech solutions from the ground up: we must not leave behind “people on the spot”.  We must develop solutions that are people-centered. Tech should also adapt to the needs of the people, for people to efficiently adopt to the technology.

Farm tourism is the next #TravelGoal

In our age of #TravelGoals and #RelationshipGoals, let’s see the potential of #AgriGoals. Here, farm tourism can help us experience the ecology of agriculture.

Farm tourism gives more focus on human experience. It is interactive, and experiential. Farm tourism makes agriculture more sexy through adding value to farm products and services. Farm meals, farm activities, and farm schools are some of the #goals of farm tourism.

Farm tourism is also the best way to learn and experience farm-to-table concept. Its focus on human experience makes farm tourism revitalize the link of people to nature and food.

Here are some keypoints on agritech from the local and international experts of LEAF:

  • “Farm tourism is value-adding, sustainable, saves the environment, and proves that agriculture is a lucrative business.” Josephine Costales, Costales Nature Farms
  • “Farm tourism is the new flavor of the month. It is sustainable, diversifies economic base, and encourages more investment in healthy cuisine.” Mina Gabor, International School of Sustainable Tourism
  • “Farm tourism is inclusive, because it has a wholistic approach to ecosystems and the supply value chain. It can bring the good, the green, the gender.” Jeannie Javelosa, Echostore
  • “Farm tourism can unite nutrition, farming, and agriculture. It’s interactive and experiential, and can transform farmers into farmacists.” Catherine Brilliantes -Turvill, Nurture Wellness Spa and Farmacy

We have no losing point in farm tourism, that’s why it’s #AgriGoals. It builds positive social, environmental, and economic impact to people’s lives and communities.

As adulting is a challenge for most of us today, let’s make redefining and revitalizing agriculture a challenge and opportunity we can triumph on. Let’s look on the potential of agripreneurship, agritech, and farm tourism as our next goals, and future.

Let’s make agriculture more sexy, now!

 


ABOUT THE WRITER: Christine Jodloman is an agriculture and food security advocate. For writing collaborations, you may contact her at christine.dsjodloman@gmail.com.


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