BUSINESS

Why Do We Need More Agripreneurs?

People should change their ideology that “there is no money in farming.”

About seven years ago, Francis N. Pangilinan expressed alarm over the apparent disinterest of young Filipinos to go into farming. Pangilinan, previously headed the Senate Committee previously on Food and Agriculture. He said that the average age of Filipino farmers is 57 years old and that a new generation of farmers is needed to ensure the country’s food security. He noted that the young were not excited about farming because it was not a viable/useful source of income.

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The officials disclosed that the annual income of farmers averaged only up to P17,000  in 2009. This was revealed during the presentation on the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) budget for 2012. This meant that their monthly income reached only P2,000 a month. The amount was not even enough to buy rice and other basic necessities.

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Farming in the Philippines has become a backbreaking work that offers little reward. The Data from the PSA released in June 2017 showed that five of the nine basic sectors have higher poverty incidence than the general population. This figure released by the Philippine Statistic Authority (PSA) did not help to eliminate the notion they had all along.

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Poverty incidence among farmers and fishermen reached 34.3 percent and 34 percent, respectively. The figure is higher than the 2015 poverty incidence of 21.6 percent.

Last October, another report called upon “Updated Production Costs and Returns of Selected Agricultural Commodities,” got released. The PSA disclosed that the gross receipts from planting rice averaged P67,436 per hectare in 2016. The net returns averaged P19,811 per hectare. For every peso of investment in palay production, rice farmers earned an average of P0.42. According to the same report, corn farmers grossed an average of P34,664 per hectare and netted P12,366 per hectare.

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These figures can be disheartening, particularly to those who till an average farm area of only 1 hectare. According to a PSA report released in 2015, about 98 percent of the total farms/holdings in the Philippines in 2012 were 7 hectares and below. Of these, 3 in every 5 farms/holdings were below 1 hectare, with an average area of 0.28 hectare per farm/holding.

The Agricultural Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, earlier said that his dream is to entice the youth to go into farming. One of his proposals is to teach agriculture subjects to elementary and high- school students. “Entrepreneurial farming” or “Agripreneurship” are some of the agricultural subjects are introduced so that the youth can get into it.

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The current breed of farmers in this venture requires the government’s firm resolve to help them to transition into “agripreneurship” and to develop the youth’s interest in farming.”

Former Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said farmers must be given access to credit, capacity training, and links to manufacturing and trade.

Initiatives cannot be taken without financial support from the government.

agripreneurs

The Duterte administration has shown its resolve in fighting the drug menace. It is hoped that the same resolution will be seen in helping farmers become productive agripreneurs.

People should change their ideology that “there is no money in farming.”

I would like to share with you the story of the real people and their real-life experiences.

Inspirational Agripreneurs

We might not know it very well but the world is filled with many success stories of agri-entrepreneurs. Most of us, actually almost all of us stay at home eating store-bought fruits and vegetables and complain about how it’s not so fresh and tasty all the while ignoring how much blood and sweat the farmers producing them sheds.

We have a few inspirational stories about people took farming seriously and to a whole another level and found success in something that is rather considered vile.

The first story is one that of a C.A. turned agripreneur, the second story is of a young executive who got a burnout in the corporate world and lastly the third one is the story of your ordinary tindera selling fish balls.

agripreneurs

Starting off with the story of the first one let’s travel to India. India has been rapidly growing in terms of economics and entrepreneurship. But agripreneurship is fairly a new one. And while some people who have little to no idea about how farming goes, find miserable failure in this business. But there are people who have found immense success in agriculture, making them a successful Indian Agripreneurs.

Such is the story of Rajeev Kamal Bittu a Chartered Accountant turned Agripreneur who for the love of farming gave up a life of luxury.

Indian Agripreneur

Rajeev risked everything by giving up the life of a C.A. to toil in the field just to prove to everyone that becoming a farming might be a difficult decision but it’s not unworthy.

Rajeev began researching different ways and techniques so he could grow his farm in his 10 acres of land that he convinced the landowner to lease him for free in exchange of the 33 percent of the profit.

He then invested Rs. 2.5 lakh to shape his farm so he could grow organic fruits and vegetables.

Indian agripreneur

Because of his venture, he was able to make a profit of around Rs 7-8 lakhs in the first attempt.

Eventually, he bought more lands on lease turning them into fertile lands growing numerous crops, plants, vegetables, and fruits. Raising the profit from Rs 7-8 lakh to Rs 20-22 lakh.

The second story is about a young IT executive who experienced burnout. This can be called a crisis of the forties. So he decided to leave his job in Manila, bought a 0.8-hectare raw land in Majayja, Laguna although he is from Pangasinan.

When he quit his job, he was earning more than P300,000 a month. He did not know anything about organic agriculture. He started by attending seminars while developing his farm and immediately applied whatever he had learned.

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Today, his farm is the first to be accredited by the Department of Tourism as a farm tour destination and he has received a number of awards from the Department of Agriculture, including the most outstanding organic farmer last year.

He also converted his farm into a training center. Foreigners to come to attend his programs. When I met him a few months ago, he told me that his income from the farm earns him more than his IT job. Isn’t that surprising?

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The third story is about a lady from San Ildefonso, Bulacan. She finished only elementary school and she married when she was 17 years old. At that time, her husband worked as a truck driver. To support their family, she sold fish balls from her house just beside the elementary school of their barrio.

One day, a person dropped by her store. Since he was not from the place, she asked him what he was doing in the area. It turned out that the fellow was an agricultural extension worker and he came to their barrio to recruit people for a training program on vegetable production. So she volunteered to join. She started her “farm” with a few square meters of land that used to be the school’s garbage dump.

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Today, she is known as the “seedlings queen of Bulacan.” You can see from the garage of her house that she’s got an SUV, a van, and some service vehicles to deliver vegetable seedlings to her clients. She also decided to open a training center right inside her farm with a very nice two-story building and four other dormitories to accommodate participants.

‘There is no microwave success in Agripreneur’

Karuga started rearing indigenous chicken breeds with his agribusiness venture on a leased plot of land. He has now switched to improved chicken breeds from the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute. This move that has enhanced the growth rate and productivity of his brood.

He has also diversified Wendy Farms Limited to include dairy farming.  Despite his achievements, Karuga says “there is no microwave success in agripreneurship”. He urges young and would-be farmers to be prepared for “the learning curve” and to take calculated risks, just like other entrepreneurs do.

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Why Agripreneur for Kenya?

For many Kenyans, farming is for retirees or a poor man’s job. But that has been changing. The media is motivating the farmers with educational farming programs to sharpen their skills. They have the mentality that

“farming is not an outdated activity” and “farming sets you on the path of self-reliance”.

Young people have realized that agriculture can be profitable and agriculture is making a comeback. These modern farmers are merging entrepreneurship and agriculture to create profitable and fulfilling business opportunities. Meet the agripreneur.

The Young Innovators in Entrepreneurship and Leadership Development (YIELD) project seeks to build the capacity of agripreneurs. A three-phase project, YIELD has the core motive of helping young agripreneurs to upgrade their agribusiness by studying thoroughly about the field, this can be later integrated into the business models of these agripreneurs. This has been implemented by three partner institutions, named the African Center for Economic Transformation, a pan-African think-and-do tank based in Accra, Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania and Michigan State University. The funding is done by the African Alliance for Partnerships.

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The agripreneurship movement could not have come at a better time. The population of Kenya is struggling with rising unemployment. Young people are waking up to the reality. The reality that everybody cannot ensure a white-collar job.

Kenya’s agricultural market for products such as strawberries, edible mushrooms, onions, honey, garlic, and Chinese cabbages, among others are recognized to have faced deficit.

‘Young Agroprenuer’

It is a campaign that has been established to attract the young generation towards the agricultural sector. It also helps them become high earning agroprenuer.

Edwin Ndibalema, a political scientist by training and his team is one among many graduates who ha the opportunity to explore agriculture. And today Edwin and some other agroprenuers have proved that youth can make it in this field.

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According to Edwin “The scope of Agriprenuer- Programme is to pursue and support opportunities in Agriculture.” He wants to change the mindset of people who consider agroprenuer as a profession for old people.

Agriculture has been a mainstay of many economies. With more than fifty percent of employment in Africa comes from the agriculture sector, youth are expected to participate active role for the agricultural development.

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There are more successful agripreneurs that are from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao and they too are willing to share what they know. This is a very different attitude from typical business people.

Many of these successful agripreneurs have been tapped as farms-schools partners for the programs offered by the Farm Business Schools. The students are taken on-the-job trainees as trainees and they mentor them while they are in their farms.

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There are many retirees, corporate workers in stressful situations, and ordinary people out there trying to make both ends meet. These stories told here should challenge everyone out there that there is money in agriculture.

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