Social impact leaders believe that the survival of farms in Palawan, which are critical to food security, is dependent on the families themselves because they are who can inspire and motivate their children to become new generations of farmers.
This came out as a common belief during the second Arampangan activity that they attended to converse and contribute ideas on how the the province’s agriculture sector can be improved to attain food security. The Cuyonon term is equivalent to the Filipino word “pag-uusap” and the English word “to converse.”
According to Kevin Lee, executive director of A Single Drop for Safe Water, Inc., the gathering is an opportunity for various leaders and individuals involved in the agriculture sector to meet and discuss how to improve lives.
Aside from focusing on farmers, it is also necessary to examine the situation and impact of suppliers, buyers, transportation, and the market sector in ensuring food supply.
It is also supported by Lenovo’s Kind City Initiative, with Puerto Princesa City being one of the country’s four participating cities.
“What I find is whenever we talk about the agriculture, we talk about farmers and what farmers are doing–when we look in the agriculture sector, it’s large, it’s not just farmers. The whole agriculture sector has so many things– it’s also about buyers, sellers, transport, fertilizers and inputs, commercial and public markets,” he said.
Lee also stressed the need to look on how the farmers are treated in the market. There must be improvements in the market to show farmers that farming is also a good career for their children as new generation of farmers.
“How do we reimagine this in a way that creates farming as an opportunity for people that fixes food security? So, people can earn better and the most vulnerable and poor people are no longer farmers. That’s the challenge, it’s not just a Palawan problem but a worldwide, that’s why we are looking in agriculture,” he added.
Roger Garinga of the Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives (IDEAS) said it is also difficult for farming families to persuade their children to continue farming, especially if they are barely surviving.
The challenge is also to help farmers develop their entrepreneurial skills in order to influence the market. He went on to say that an organized group of farmers participating in the market could be the key to improving their livelihood and inspiring their children.
“Ang problema natin sa agriculture dito, ang market ay wala man lang impluwensya ang producers. Hangga’t hindi sila nagkakaroon ng effective influence sa market, mananatili silang supplier ng cheap raw materials,” he said.
Jomar Pacaldo, President of the Kemdeng Farmers Association in San Vicente, also said they were already exposed to farming at a young age, and their parents’ motivation had a significant impact.
Pacaldo observed that some farming parents persuade their children to complete their studies so that they will not inherit the hardships of farming.
Parents’ perspectives should shift and they should not discourage their children from farming, he added.
“Pangarap ko talaga na mabago ang motivation ng mga magulang sa kanilang mga anak, huwag sana sabihin na magsasaka lang kami, huwag kayo matulad. Iyon ang unang mabago para magkaroon ng kaisipan ‘yong anak na ‘mag-aaral akong mabuti para mabalikan ko ‘yong farm natin at ima-manage o para maging parte tayo ng food security,” he said.
The city agriculture office sees the need to invest in education in order to appreciate other factors affecting food security in agriculture.
Women must also be empowered in the sector, particularly in credit for capital.
“Ang education, pagpapahalaga, yon ang dapat natin tingnan. Kasi, oo, sasabihin ko na lugi ako pero hindi naman talaga. Kailangan natin maintindihan ang record keeping, pag-intindi paano ba natin mas papalaguin,” city agriculturist Melissa Macasaet said.