Recognizing Elderly Farmers & Fisherfolk’s Contributions to Agriculture

Date Published: October 7, 2021

Despite their age, elderly farmers and fisherfolk play an important role in the field of agriculture. A recent study conducted by the University of the Philippines in Los Baños shows that the average age of the Filipino farmer is now around 53 years old (Philippine Journal of Science). It is because of this that the Department of Agriculture dedicates a week to celebrate the Elderly Filipino, honoring and recognizing their efforts seeing that the agriculture sector is run by a majority of elderly farmers and fisherfolk on the ground.

During this time of pandemic however, these same elderly farmers and fisherfolk, despite being the most vulnerable to the virus, are out in the field continuing to farm and fish to ensure our country’s food security.

DA-PRDP, through its Production of Cassava Granules and Marketing subproject, is able to give support to these farmers by providing them assistance.

For elderly farmers like Rogelio Nilo of San Jose, making a living during the pandemic became more challenging because of restrictions on movement. According to Nilo, he has been spending most of his time in his farm to make sure that the operation continues to run smoothly.

“Even though I’m a senior citizen, I still continue with my farming because that’s what we do for a living,” said Nilo. “Sometimes I ask for help or hire other people but I’m the one heading the operations and managing the farm. So I can see that things are going well for the group.” According to Nilo, the PRDP project was a big help during the pandemic, because through that, they were able to bring in 3 hectares of cassava with the financial assistance from PRDP

The leadership of Rogelio Nilo contributed a lot so that the rest of San Jose Multi-Purpose Cooperative were able to bridge the gap and make it through one of the most challenging times for their cooperative.

In Antipas, North Cotabato, Loreta Ambay, one of the women senior citizen members of Household Multi-Purpose Cooperative who also owns her own cacao farm, shared how they also benefited from the project granted by PRDP to HMPC. 

As a Senior Citizen, the clustering per area in collecting their cacao beans using the truck from PRDP with no additional cost, eased their burden of finding ways to transport their wet beans to the Cooperative. 

The 83 year old Hemenio Gabayron expressed his gratitude upon learning that there will be a mechanical dryer for HMPC after having to get himself used to drying his beans under the sundry in his backyard.

Providing other infrastructures and machinery for farmers greatly benefits elderly farmers as these make their work in the farm much easier to do. 

“It’s really good that HMPC now has a mechanical dryer. I no longer have to wait for several days to dry and sell my beans because I can now directly sell the wet cacao beans to them and get money on the same day,” said Gabayron. 

In one of the Department of Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar’s messages, he emphasized the role of the youth in securing the future of Philippine Agriculture who are crucial to prevent a shortage of farmers in just 12 years or so.

Thus, this year’s theme “Palakasin, Paunlarin, Pahalagahan, ang Katandaang Pilipino” (AKaP) reminded us that we have to value our elders by giving them support and continue improving what they have started. (Joy Montecalvo | PSO Mindanao)


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