Youth-started farm hopes to revitalize public health agriculture industry – Manila Newsletter
There is a negative view of agriculture in the Philippines. Many find this unprofitable and often advise young people to pursue careers away from the pitch. It is this idea that has driven the younger generations to fully appreciate the industry.
Recent reports have indicated that the average age of farmers in the country is 53 years old. If this average holds, there will be a serious shortage of farmers in about 12 years. But all hope is not lost as some of the younger generations have taken an interest in agriculture.
Jayryl Enano, Jomar A. Fortes and James F. Fresnillo are three examples of young people who have entered farming in the hope of revitalizing the industry.
âSince then, the three of us have been passionate about agriculture. Agriculture is part of our lives, we grew up in a family where agriculture is our main source of income. On this trip, we learned how agriculture works, from basic knowledge to scientific and technological knowledge, âthey said.
Fresnillo, Fortes, and Enano all took courses in agriculture in college and went on to pursue a career as a farmer.
Together, they established a natural and integrated farm called Parauma, derived from a local term meaning farmer. They started Parauma as a way to empower and support farmers, promote agriculture, and enlighten their fellow farmers on agriculture.
âParauma was inspired by the noble works of our farmers. We want to show everyone that farming is a fun job while also making money. In addition, we have dedicated our project to all the farmers who tirelessly feed our community, âthey said.
Before the creation of Parauma, the trio was already engaged in agriculture and knew each other since they are members of the same youth organization. It wasn’t until they decided to enter a competition that they started to collaborate because of the same advocacy and vision for youth and agriculture.
âIt all started when we won the ‘Finding an Outstanding Kabataang Agribiz Business Model’ competition at the provincial level, a Ministry of Agriculture youth program,â they said.
They implemented their project in August 2021 when Parauma started up. The farm is still in development as the three create technology that they hope will one day help farmers.
Practice natural and integrated agriculture
As an integrated natural farm, Parauma grows high-value crops such as papaya, lettuce and herbs, while also raising rabbits, quail and free-range chickens. They also create a natural fertilizer for their crops, such as vermicast from African nocturnal caterpillars, concoctions and extracts from their farm waste.
âWe practice integrated natural agriculture to use all available resources on the farm without harming the environment because we believe that agriculture is a cycle, everything on the farm benefits each other,â they said.
Since Parauma was only established recently, the most prolific crop on the farm today is herb seedlings. The trio planted herbs in a seedling bag or pot before selling. Within two to three weeks, once the herbs are established, they deliver them to their designated partners or sell them in a public market.
The three young farmers maintain the quality of their herb plants by keeping them in a greenhouse and checking them regularly. They produce almost 100 herb plants in a week, but for now they are looking for a stable market for their product.
âIn animal production, for the moment, quail production is the most profitable. We harvest quail eggs almost every day. Our target market is end consumers to maximize our profits since we are newbies in this business, âsaid the trio.
Educate their visitors and attract young people
In addition to growing and raising livestock, Parauma Integrated Natural Farm also offers farm tours and educational tours to inspire more people, especially young people. Since all three have experience and knowledge in agriculture, they are also open to consultation and invitations to become guest speakers.
They educate visitors by sharing their knowledge, ideas and experiences about farming to help others maximize the land available to them or start a farming business in the future.
âWe as young farmers and agricultural advocates encourage the younger generation by first educating them to break the stigma that farming is a small profession. We are instilling in the younger generation that as future successors of our aging farmers, they play an important role in the country’s food system. We tell them that there is a better future for agriculture and agriculture in general, âsaid the three friends.
Enano, Fresnillo and Fortes also discuss the different opportunities and benefits they derive from farming to disprove the idea that farming is a poor man’s job.
Despite their age, the trio don’t let that stop them from carrying out their mission to revitalize the Philippine agricultural industry by inspiring their fellow youth to get into farming.
It is exactly like our national hero, Dr Jose Rizal, said: âAng kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan. (Young people are the hope of our nation.) Equipping them with the right knowledge and perspective on agriculture can give hope to Philippine agriculture in the future.
For more information visit Parauma Integrated Natural Farm on Facebook.
Photos courtesy of Jayryl Enano, Jomar A. Fortes, and James F. Fresnillo
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