Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Awesome program encourages young people to consider being farmers of the future

LOS BAÑOS, Philippines—“When I grow-up, I want to be a farmer,” said one of the students of the German European School Manila who participated in a recent program at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to learn more about rice and how the crop is grown.

On 9 November, 70 students from the school had the time of their lives as they participated in the Rice Planting Activity for Youth at IRRI.  Other young people also attended the activity other days this month, including 150 students from St. Paul College of Parañaque and 25 students from Keys School Manila.

“The activity gives young people an overview of growing the world’s most important crop through a mini-lecture and hands-on field activities,” said Ms. Achu Arboleda, senior specialist at IRRI Education. “The highlight of the exercise is when the students take part in land preparation using both traditional (water buffalo) and modern (machines) methods.”

After plowing a field, the students transplant rice seedlings using their bare hands under the heat of the sun, which gives them an idea of what farmers do to ensure that their families and consumers will have rice on their tables at mealtime.

“Many students come out of the experience quite happy and satisfied with the hard work they did,” Arboleda said. She calls on all youth to come to IRRI to experience having their feet in the mud!

“This is an awesome activity,” she exclaimed enthusiastically!

Engaging youth in agriculture has been an important issue as fewer young people worldwide consider agriculture as a future career.  Every year, droves of young people migrate to the cities looking for work. While the agriculture sector faces numerous challenges, exciting technological innovations could help change perceptions and make farming more interesting for young people.

The Rice Planting Activity for Youth is jointly facilitated by the Events and Visitors Office, the Zeigler Experiment Station, and IRRI Education. Schools interested in participating in the program may contact Achu Arboleda at m.s.arboleda@irri.org.

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