Solon eyes agri students’ scholarship

A partylist lawmaker on Thursday has filed a measure seeking to incentivize students who take up agriculture and agri-related courses to guarantee that the nation has a new generation of better-educated farmers who would use their knowledge to enhance farming practices to fulfill its goal of improving the country’s agriculture.

AGRI Partylist Representative Wilbert Lee said that that the proposed House Bill 1295 — also known as the Free Tertiary Agriculture Education Bill — aims to encourage the children of indigent farmers to stay in agriculture.

Lee stressed that there is a need for “new blood” in agriculture as the country’s average farmer ranges to 57 to 59 years old.

Under the measure, dependent children of registered indigent farmers who plan to enroll or are currently enrolled in agricultural courses or related professions at state universities and colleges would be eligible for the scholarship.

According to the lawmaker, the proposal is not only crucial for breaking the cycle of poverty in agricultural communities, but it is also an essential investment for the future of the country’s agricultural sector.

In addition to free tuition, the measure would provide the students with other incentives or subsidies such as living and transportation allowances.

The Department of Agriculture, in coordination with the Commission on Higher Education, is tasked with establishing the said program.

To recall, former Agriculture Secretary William Dar warned last year that the Philippines could face a critical farmer shortage in 12 years.

This prompted the solon to encourage more students to consider agriculture courses. In that way, Lee said, the country would have a new batch of farmers armed with the knowledge to maximize outputs.

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