Most PH rice farmers want children to work in the city or abroad – study

Most rice farmers in the country want their children to earn college degrees that will get them jobs in the city or abroad, a study showed.

This is based on the findings of the study,  “Aging Filipino Rice Farmers and Their Aspirations for Their Children,” conducted by Florencia G. Palis of the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

According to the study, around 65% of the farmers want their children to stay away from rice farming, while 35% want their children to engage in the same trade.

The Science and Technology Information Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-STII) said in a press statement that according to Palis, “the risk associated with rice farming as a means of livelihood further discourages parent farmers to aspire for their children to be like them.”

“The uncertainty in yield and income is real to them and they attribute it to unpredictable weather situations, unstable output price and input costs, and natural disasters like heavy rains, floods, and drought, including pest and disease infestations,” Palis added.

Citing the study, DOST-STII said that farmers who want their children to follow in their footsteps “are more likely the older farmers who wanted that someone in the family manage the farm and continue the rice farming tradition.”

Breaking the cycle of poverty

Palis said “there is need to pay attention to rural services for agricultural extension including hassle free and practical mechanisms of providing capital to farmers.” 

Her research showed that Filipino rice farmers get trapped in a cycle of poverty since most do not have enough capital for their trade, and have to seek out informal money lenders who charge high interest rates, or borrow money from rice traders who require them to sell their harvest to them at a low price.

“Agricultural extension should not only focus on dissemination of technological innovations but social innovations as well to achieve impacts in improving the lives of Filipino farming households and farming communities. In this manner, farmers and their children may aspire for farming occupation or business if it has a better pay-off,” DOST-STII said, citing the research findings.

Respondents

The survey was conducted among 923 farmers randomly selected in 3 provinces representing the 3 major island groups: Isabela for Luzon, Iloilo for the Visayas, and Agusan del Norte for Mindanao. 

“The survey was complemented by in-depth interviews and focus group discussions to further understand the lives and situations of Filipino farmers,” DOST-STII said.

A majority of the respondents had elementary education, and on average spent only 8 years in school, or up to 2nd year high school before quitting.

The farming experience of the respondents ranges from 22 to 30 years. DOST-STII said 70% of the respondents are male, while 30% are female. Most of them are married.

The study appeared in the Philippine Journal of Science, a publication of DOST-STII. – Rappler.com