The Volunteer Leaders Association of the Philippines (VLAP), a volunteer support arm of the Department of Agriculture, gathers volunteers who are willing to become extension workers, supervising organized youth like the 4-H Club and Young Farmers Association learn farming techniques or on technology transfer.
VLAP Vice President James Ibaya said the youth has to get involved in farming particularly on fruit and vegetable production in order to have regular source of nutrient-rich foods on the table, help save the country from too much dependence on imported agriculture products and help lower inflation.
Recently, VLAP members from Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon converged here for their 13th National Convention with the theme: “A Day to Reckon With: Living Together, Working Together, Experiencing Together and Helping Each Other – Journey to Self-fulfillment.” During their immersion in a remote village of Balatoc, this city, Ibaya reiterated his appeal for the young to start learning how to farm and raise crops.
Dr. Nonito Delgado, VLAP Adviser from Davao City, admitted it is not easy to bring back the passion in the past when Filipinos are hands on in the farms to earn and live.
“Today, children hate to stay under the sun and always want to enroll in non-agriculture degrees. It’s really hard to encourage them to farm,” he said.
That is why VLAP tries to reach out to the youth by organizing them and forging partnership with the agriculture department and local government agriculture services to engage them to compete on group projects, do backyard gardening and bring them out for encampment, he said. Rex Parro, VLAP Executive Secretary from Surigao del Sur, meanwhile, said the group’s visit here was a lifetime experience especially their immersion with their foster families in Balatoc.
“Everybody enjoyed eating on bare hands, enjoyed the cultural entertainment, the food and the hospitality of the people. Kalinga is such a beautiful place,” he quipped.
The Kalinga provincial and Tabuk City local government units committed to assist the youth learn the basics of agriculture and support their projects grow.(JDP/PAB-PIA CAR, Kalinga)