Young Filipinos Step Up for Agriculture

YFFTPJ participants learn more about swine feeding and nutrition at the ATI-ITCPH. (Photo by Clemente Gabion)

DILIMAN, Quezon City – What do the Filipino youth think about most these days?

For 25-year-old Janbert Aranza, it’s about how to sustain his business of grafting fruit trees and expand his knowledge on farming.

“Agriculture is the backbone of any economy for without it, there would be no food. Without food, we would not be able to produce all the other materials we need to survive. The youth truly needs to know the importance of farming and agriculture,” the young farmer from Barangay Lunga, Valencia, Negros Oriental said in an interview.

Aranza is the president of this year’s batch of trainees under the Young Filipino Farmers’ Training Program in Japan (YFFTPJ) implemented by the Philippine Department of Agriculture through the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), in partnership with Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Japan Agricultural Exchange Council (JAEC). The program is the Philippines’ counterpart for the ASEAN Young Farmer Leaders Training Program in Japan.

Prior to joining the program, Aranza has been a member of the local 4H Club for around six years. Through this, he was able to pursue a business on grafting fruit trees such as lanzones, rambutan and mangosteen, where a pot of each is sold at 70 pesos.

Male young farmers aged 20-26, like Aranza, are qualified to the YFTTPJ. They must be either high school graduates or college undergraduates, with at least two years of continuous farming experience and has an available farm or existing agri-based project. There are 20 qualified young farmers from different regions in the country for this year’s batch.

The scholars are now undergoing the Pre-Departure Orientation Course (PDOC) at the ATI’s Central Office. The PDOC is a 70-day intensive technical training on various subject matters such as rice, vegetable, swine and cattle production, farm business planning, farm mechanization, computer literacy, values formation, leadership and Nihongo.

“The PDOC is very helpful to us especially because my fellow trainees and I have different specialties. Through this course, we are able to gain knowledge not only on planting crops but also on raising and breeding livestock and poultry,” Aranza said.

ATI Director Asterio Saliot underscored that the program is aimed at expanding not only the trainees’ knowledge but also create change in their attitude and shape them to stay perseverant and committed to their craft.

Meanwhile, JAEC Local Coordinator Waki Sasago reminded the trainees that they are expected to share the knowledge, skills and techniques they will learn from their 11-month training in Japan within their community.

Prior to the PDOC, the participants are required to undergo the 50-day Home-Stay Module with the guidance of identified local host farmers through hands-on farm activities, visits to other farms and agricultural institutions, conversational Nihongo and physical fitness. Furthermore, when they return from Japan, the participants are expected to undergo a five-day Post Training and Evaluation.

The YFFTPJ was implemented in 1986 to provide deserving young Filipino farmers an opportunity to learn technical knowledge and skills on agricultural and cooperative management from Japanese farmers. Over the years, around 500 young Filipino farmers have benefitted from the program, most of whom are now successful agripreneurs, public servants and mentors.

“I hope that our government would implement more programs like the YFFTPJ because efforts like this would pave way for a bright future for young Filipinos who are not able to finish school like me. I hope that there would be more agricultural programs and scholarships for young farmers to help them expand their knowledge and skills,” Aranza bade.