Growing up with their vegetable garden as his playground and always having fresh produce for his meals, it was second nature for 25-year-old Ryan Palunan to carry on his parents' legacy and pursue a career in agriculture.
“My parents are also farmers managing a small area for vegetable production,” said Palunan, who juggles between tending to his backyard farm and his academic load as an agriculture student at Benguet State University.
Currently, Palunan is busy preparing for the Young Farmers Challenge (YFC), a competitive financial grant assistance program developed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to encourage the youth to venture into agriculture.
Palunan said it was during a visit to the Baguio City Veterinary and Agriculture Office in 2021 that he learned about the government competition for young farmers, which he saw as an opportunity to help him raise capital for his future agriculture business.
He said he wants their small farm in Happy Hollow barangay to become a learning site for other young people like him to learn skills in the production and processing of agricultural products.
He grows lettuce, lemons, oranges, and coffee which he sells in their village or brings to Baguio City’s public market. He is also preparing an area for tilapia production.
He said going into an agriculture business does not necessarily mean he has to till farmlands himself, adding that the trade also has its processing and marketing aspects.
“Agriculture is about production, processing, and also the market. You don’t need to till the soil to become a farmer because there are now available agribusiness ventures that we can go into,” he said.
He said through the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), the training arm of the Department of Agriculture, they are learning the many facets of agriculture that present many possibilities of earning from the products through value-adding or marketing systems of the future.
Young farmers challenge
Palunan, also the president of the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Council, said in 2021, 50 participants from Cordillera joined the competition at the provincial level and the eventual winners received PHP50,000 (individual category) and PHP100,000 (group), respectively.
They advanced to the regional level, where three participants were declared winners and each got PHP150,000. They went on to compete in the finals, where the grand prize winner took home PHP300,000.
“If you reach the national level, that would mean [a total of] PHP500,000 capital for you which will go a long way to pursue an agribusiness project,” Ryan said.
He added that aside from the monetary prize, the YFC winner also receives training in either farm production, processing, or marketing.
Palunan said their target this year is to have at least 80 participants for the YFC.
“Our goal is to encourage more youth to take up a course in agriculture or go into the many potential activities related to agriculture because people will always eat and the potential of agriculture will never wane,” he said.
Source: Philippines News Agency