MANILA - A party-list lawmaker on Thursday pushed for the passage of a measure seeking to incentivize students who take up agriculture and other related courses by providing them with scholarships, allowances, and other assistance.
Agri Rep. Wilbert Lee said House Bill 1295 aims to boost enrollment in tertiary agriculture education, which has seen a long and steady decline.
"If we are to improve agriculture in our country we have to ensure that we have a new generation of better-educated farmers who will apply their knowledge to improve farming practices. Through the Free Tertiary Agriculture Education bill, we hope to encourage the children of indigent farmers to stay in agriculture," Lee said.
The measure seeks to establish a scholarship program, through the Department of Agriculture (DA) in coordination with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), that would benefit dependent children of registered indigent farmers who intend to enroll or are already enrolled in agricultural courses or related fields in state universities and colleges.
Aside from free tuition, the measure would grant other incentives or subsidies including living and transportation allowance.
"This will not only help break the cycle of poverty in agricultural communities but will be an investment for the future of our agricultural sector. Through education, we seek to encourage many of our students to stay in agriculture and be a part of development," Lee said.
Lee stressed the need for "new blood" in agriculture, considering that the average age of farmers in the country is from 57 to 59 years old.
"With better-educated farmers we can show that farming is not a dead-end job that will sink those who enter it into deeper poverty. That rather, it is a noble profession that can also provide a decent and comfortable life to those who engage in it," he said. (PNA)