Agripreneurs to youth: Get your feet wet in agribusiness

Mick Basa
Agripreneurs to youth: Get your feet wet in agribusiness
Student attendees of the Go Negosyo summit are encouraged to try agribusiness in aid of the country’s agriculture and food security concerns

MANILA, Philippines – The fate of the Philippines’ food security lies on whether or not young Filipinos will change their mindset toward agriculture industry, agribusiness players warned at a summit on Friday, July 25.

“It seems like no want wants to engage in agricultural business because it’s a ‘dirty’ job,” said Desiree Duran, a former fishball vendor who became an agripreneur and now owns an agri-tourism destination vegetable farm in Basuit, San Ildefonso, Bulacan.

Her Duran Farm, inaugurated in February, is dubbed the vegetable paradise of Bulacan. Apart from a vegetable farm, her 9-hectare property of farm and resort earns from tours and lodging.

Duran was one of the invited resource persons in the first agribusiness summit organized by Go Negosyo, sharing with the audience – majority are students – that there is a future in agriculture, and not only in corporate or office jobs that many graduates pursue.

As the average Filipino farmer now nears the mandatory retirement age of 60, there is a growing concern the country will not be able to secure food production – as the new generation prefers to work anywhere but in the agricultural sector.

“If agriculture isn’t vibrant, there’s poverty and hunger. We continue to lag behind in terms of agriculture despite a 2% growth in the economy. That’s because we only had 1% growth in agriculture,” said Secretary Francis Pangilinan, Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.

Change mindset, become agripreneurs

In its first summit that zeroed in on the potentials of agribusiness, Go Negosyo was able to gather close to 7,000 participants, mostly students from different colleges in Luzon, and a team of delegates from the Mindanao State University-Jolo campus.

Students were the target audience “to develop their interest and knowledge on agribusiness venture,” said Go Negosyo founder Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III.

The summit also cited 13 “inspiring agripreneurs,” among them Joseph Calata, known as the youngest agribusiness tycoon in the Philippines.

Calata transformed his family business into the country’s largest distributor of agrochemicals, feeds, seeds, and fertilizers.

“Before, many of my friends would be so proud when they speak of their corporate jobs. On the other hand, I never cared what they think of me as someone who sells hog feeds,” Calata addressed the summit.

Majority of Filipinos still lack the entrepreneurial mindset and would rather become employers than start their own businesses, thus Senator Cynthia Villar, in her opening remarks at the summit, addressed the youth to “change its mindset” to become agripreneurs.

If there is enough entrepreneurs to make agribusiness work, farming can actually work, Pangilinan said.

“Many of our farmers don’t have experience in business. If they don’t know how to handle business, investing, and bookkeeping, they will remain abused and poor. If we don’t secure our farmers by way of improving their incomes, we cannot secure our food,” Pangilinan stressed.

The agricultural sector “has the potential to develop and contribute to the country’s inclusive growth and development,” Concepcion said.

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