Young farmers, fisherfolk boost CDO’s food security


The city government, through its agricultural productivity operations office (APOO), has started involving the youth sector in local agriculture and fishery to help ensure food security in the region.

Since its introduction in August this year, the APOO’s Bayanihan sa Agrikultura para sa Kabatan-onan, Kaumahan, ug Katubigan (BAKA) has trained 20 participants from different barangays in the city on the proper methods of farming, fishing, and agribusiness.

These participants, mostly under the age of 30, were selected based on their experience and interests.

“One of the issues that we are trying to address is the possible decline of these practices due to the aging population of our farmers and fisherfolk,” Ezel Lambatan, BAKA’s program director, shared during the program’s launch that was originally stymied by the pandemic.

Lambatan emphasized the importance of the youth being proactive in these sectors to ensure the food security of future consumers.


The BAKA program taught the participants a range of practical skills related to agro-fishery, including organic farming, fish production, free-range chicken production, and agro-enterprise development.

After a series of training in their five-day camp in October, participants came up with plans to implement farming and aquaculture methods in their respective barangays.

These plans would be used to improve the production of a diverse set of agri-products, from vegetables and crops to poultry and marine production.

Jan Erwin Aljo, a resident of Barangay Tablon and one of the program’s participants, shared how he was inspired to get involved with the program.

“I come from a family of farmers that also sell probiotic eggs,” Aljo said in an interview Wednesday.

Taking after his family, Aljo decided to come up with his plan to produce healthy poultry by nurturing free-range native chickens with probiotic feeds.

Aljo said he sympathizes with the country’s farmers and fisherfolk and laments how the younger generation seemed to be distancing themselves from agriculture.

“These days, we don’t see a lot of young people engaged in agriculture, so what happens to the next generation if no one will take the helm?” Aljo said. “I wanted to learn because I want to make a change.”

He said joining the program allowed him to see his dream come to fruition and gave him the necessary tools and resources to achieve it.

Currently, the BAKA program’s technical working group is organizing another set of training slated in the last week of November.

This time, they have partnered with the Development Communication Program of Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan to equip the participants with effective marketing strategies to promote their products.

As the BAKA program will provide on-site monitoring and assistance for their projects, participants are expected to have their products completed by the first quarter of 2022.

“For the commencement, we plan to conduct a five-day business fair where the participants will showcase their products,” Lambatan said.

Farming in the metro

Lambatan pointed out that the city owes a lot of its food security to its neighboring provinces in Northern Mindanao that continue to be agriculturally productive.

As it is also a coastal area, fishing practices have been the source of livelihood and income for many communities here in Cagayan de Oro.

“CDO (Cagayan de Oro) has always been the gateway to Northern Mindanao, but most of our food supply comes from nearby provinces like Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental. As an urbanized city, our food supply is dependent on them,” Lambatan said.

Despite this, the city still needs to underscore the value of these sectors to ensure food security for its residents.

As the city looks forward to transitioning into metropolitan status, local efforts to nurture agro-fishery remained the top priority of the city government.

The city has already listed 21 agrarian reform barangays ideal for agricultural and fishing practices.

Barangay Tablon, where Aljo seeks to conduct his project, is one of them.

Lambatan also mentioned that the BAKA program is a way to encourage the youth to find meaning, purpose, and passion for agro-fishery practices, fostering their ideas and supporting their process.

“It is a program focusing on the youth that responds to the needs of the times,” BAKA program director Lambatan said.

Still a threat

In a recent United Nations report, “food insecurity” was identified as one of the pressing problems in the Philippines from 2017 to 2019, with 59 million Filipinos lacking access to food.

The data was made available before the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the economy in 2020 and left 4.2 million Filipinos jobless in the first quarter of 2021, according to the information released by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), however, plans to address the issue by focusing on implementing the production-to-consumption value chain and enhancing the country’s biosecurity measures to sustain fertile lands and ward off pests.

While the DA focuses on a national scale, the APOO said it is taking this initiative at the city level to uphold local food security and provide support to the next generation of urban farmers.

“Through the support of the local government’s Oro Youth Development Office and the Oro Youth Development Council, we can forge a collaboration that engages youth in agriculture,” Lambatan said.

Source: Philippines News Agency