“For young adults alike, be active and do not give up on agriculture. Even without advanced skills, be determined enough and pursue your aspirations. Seek the assistance of your local agricultural offices and look for opportunities so you can start farming.”
This is what Avil L. Mosquesa said when asked for his advice to fellow young adults who plan to venture into agriculture.
Twenty-nine-year-old Avil is a resident of Barangay Candiis, Veruela, Agusan del Sur. With his three-year service to their local agriculture sector and being adept in farming himself, he leads the Candiis SAAD Farmers Association (CSFA), a group engaging in cacao and poultry production.
In 2020, Avil and the rest of the members of CSFA became recipients of the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) – Caraga, a program that provides start-up livelihood projects to farmers belonging to areas with high poverty incidence in the region.
Avil is among the youth who are rebranding the face of the agriculture sector in the country. This aligns with Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar’s call for more youth in agriculture to ensure a food-secure and resilient Philippines.
Empowering fellow young adults
Joining other 31 farmers associations in the provinces of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur, CSFA obtained cacao and native chicken production projects in 2020 worth Php 981,452.15 and Php 873,916.90, respectively.
Included in the package of interventions allotted to CSFA are 21,875 pieces of grafted cacao seedlings, fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and farm tools for their cacao production project; and 210 native chickens, feeds, drugs and biologics, incubator, poultry house with perimeter fence for their poultry project.
These are shared among 35 members of CSFA who are mostly young adults but, according to Avil, are equally capable.
“We have more young adults in the group. They are active and willing to learn. As a start-up organization, we have a long way to go, but we are at an advantage because my members are active and committed,” said Avil.
Just like Avil, the members of CSFA grow bananas, coconut, and cacao for a living. They all have a knack for agriculture that equips them to handle the SAAD cacao and poultry projects.
“Young adults have the potential to make it big in agriculture. This is what I always tell my members, also as a way to encourage them. If they start early, soon enough they will profit from their efforts. Young adults also need encouragement to keep them moving,” added Avil.
Motivations of CSFA
While waiting for the SAAD-funded cacao plantation to mature by 2022, the CSFA is busy caring for their poultry production that recently housed 210 chickens in January.
In terms of production, the CSFA is only in its infancy. They expect their first egg harvest in May, which they plan to distribute and sell in their community and set aside some to increase their stocks to 500 head.
“We have just begun. From time to time, I survey their plantation and check on their needs,” said Avil.
According to Avil, his members aspire for a comfortable life. This is also the primary motivator why he accepted the responsibility to lead CSFA: to help his members to improve their living conditions.
Avil is certain that with proper management, farmers can thrive. Being a full-time barangay agriculture worker, he hopes for more young adults investing in agriculture. In CSFA, he reminds his members that “progress is only attainable with a shared commitment among all members.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, more young people in agriculture affords more employment opportunities in the rural areas and a food-secure future. This is true to Avil and the young members of CSFA who are now more equipped with the SAAD Program backing them until 2022.
“We are young and we have so much to learn. But openness to learn is our advantage,” Avil expressed. ###
Writer: Mark Angelo Pineda, Information Officer- SAAD Caraga