TESDA pushes tech-voc training for green farming

29 October 2011

With the new food culture kindling interest in agriculture, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is urging more people to engage in green farming, which is considered as more environmental-friendly and more sustainable in the long-run.

TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva said the agency has various courses in place that can tap and hone the Filipinos' skills in farming and other agricultural activities towards the path of getting into green-collar jobs.

"TESDA supports agriculture and believes it is a very important sector, which contributes to the sustainability of the country. We have to make sure that every Filipino has access to sufficient, safe and healthy food on the table," Villanueva said.

Villanueva emphasized the need for sustainable agriculture in ensuring food security during the graduation ceremony of the training on organic-based vegetable production participated by 219 teachers from Tarlac.

The event was organized by Representative Jeci Lapus of Tarlac's third congressional district.

TESDA, together with the Tarlac College of Agriculture, provided the training. The teachers underwent assessment and received certification from the agency.

Lapus said the training was aimed at enhancing the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program in the district's public schools.

Green-collar jobs have emerged in the international scene to generally mean the path to a cleaner, more energy efficient future. For the agriculture sector, it means veering away from the use of pesticides, insecticides and other artificial fertilizers to grow food.

Villanueva said organic farming has become one of the fastest growing segments of the agricultural sector in the western markets.

"There is a growing preference for organic food because of the reported negative impact of pesticides and insecticides and the use of artificial fertilizers. More and more consumers are now looking for producers they can trust," he said.

The TESDA chief acknowledged, however that the shift to organic farming is not easy, and that agricultural workers should be prepared to make some initial sacrifices.

"One cannot expect the same level of productivity from organic farming with that of the traditional vegetable farming, which usually happens during the years of conventional conversion.  However, experiences have shown that yields rebounded when the conversion period ended," he said.

Villanueva added that highest returns are assured since the cost of organic production is lower than chemical-based production.

"The increasing demand for organic products also ensures the market for vegetables.   In my visits to farms in Mindanao, I have witnessed many farmers successfully shifting from conventional farming to organic farming.  It is not only healthier and safer, it is also more sustainable," he said.

He urged more teachers and students to get into agricultural training and take active interest in organic farming.

"There is a need to create a steady pool of workers in the agriculture sector. The average age of our farmers is around 50 years old. It means our farmers are aging. Soon, there will be a dearth of farmers," he said.

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