In today’s technologically-driven society, millennials seem to be more inclined to seek jobs in the cityscape. However, a group of young farmers in our countryside are stepping up, hoping to create a revolution by going against the grain and aiming for the sustainable.
Part of this group is 21-year-old Rudy Concepcion II of Cauayan, Isabela. For him, agriculture is key to securing the future of the next generations, despite what other young people might perceive of it.
“Agriculture is one of the foundations of our nation and the lifeblood of our economy. If there is no agriculture, we are nothing. Life is secured in agriculture and the earlier we train our youth on farming, the better,” he said.
In April 2017, Rudy welcomed a big opportunity to learn new techniques and enhance his skills on farming through the ASEAN Young Farmer Leaders Training Program in Japan. He was qualified for the program along with other 18 Filipino delegates. This was after they passed the program’s Philippine counterpart, the Young Filipino Farmers’ Training Program in Japan (YFFTPJ).
Managed by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), in collaboration with the Japan Agricultural Exchange Council and the Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the YFFTPJ offers an 11-month on-farm training with Japanese host farmers to young male farmers aged 20-27 years old and at least high school graduates. The training is aimed at enhancing leadership potentials in agriculture and fisheries through the exchange of knowledge on farming techniques and practices.
“This is our chance to train ourselves to become better in agriculture and improve our lives. We get to learn about new technologies that we can apply here, not only for ourselves but also for those in need,” expressed Rudy. He furthered that Japan has been the country’s ally in many things, exemplifying the importance of collaboration and they are very generous as well for opening their doors to young Filipino farmers.
With both parents as farmers, Rudy had his heart set on agriculture since he was young. He wanted to pursue farming even when his father passed away when he was still six months old. This is why he took a two-year course in agricultural technology after graduating high school.
With his older brother and brother-in-law, Rudy has been managing their 1.5-hectare integrated farm that sustains their daily needs. In 2013, he became a member of the 4-H Club in their locality.
Last year, he took his chances at the YFFTPJ but had been told that he lacked agricultural experience. Instead of losing heart, Rudy dedicated an entire year to learn more about this field. Now, he has finished the program’s 75-day preparatory course and is training with a Japanese farming family.
“We understood and discovered many things. But we also faced challenges that tested our limits. Amid this, there are still many people who believed in us, who believed that we can do whatever it is we had to do. These challenges became the ‘x factor’ for us to trust and believe in the capabilities of one another. One’s excellence is also the excellence of the others. Our skills and values were honed and we became a group, a brotherhood,” Rudy shared during his speech in the graduation ceremony of their Pre-Departure Orientation Course last April 10, 2017.
Serving as the batch president of this year’s YFFTPJ trainees, Rudy said that he learned a lot about leadership especially in terms of problem-solving and dealing with different types of personality.
“I think I’ve become mature because of the responsibilities I had. I’ve learned to tap into my creativity in these past few months. I’ve also become more caring about others and realized the importance of maximizing my time,” he shared.
Realizing the truth to the statement ‘time is gold’, Rudy said he is doing what he can to make every second count. When he finishes his training in Japan, he added that he plans to expand their farm and hopefully increase their production and excel as an entrepreneur.
“I will be experiencing a different culture in Japan so I’m slightly nervous but I’m mostly excited to learn about new farming technologies. I am grateful for this program as it emphasizes that everything should really start with the youth,” he said.