FirstDibs by Amor Maclang • Published 17 February 2019
“If we do not innovate in agriculture, we won’t have enough food on the table come 2050.”
This was the insight shared by our very own Amor Maclang at the recently held AGREA Leaders and Entrepreneurs in Agriculture Forum (LEAF) in Tagaytay City.
After delivering the keynote for the Agritech session, Amor, a tech advocate and co-convener of TechUp Pilipinas, continued to give her thoughts on teching-up agriculture in a panel discussion which included Dr. Dileep Guntuku of the Iowa State University, Elizabeth Hernandez of Corteva Agriscience, Johan Janssen of Joomla!, Paul Voutier of Grow Asia, and moderator Quintin Pastrana of ANC.
The plenary talked about the sad reality that technology does not trickle down to those who need it the most. For a largely agricultural country like ours, the Philippines does not seem to give agriculture the attention it needs, and not a lot of people see its value. In effect, farming has lost its appeal to the younger generation, and it is fast becoming a lost art or a forgotten tradition.
In the 70s, the agriculture industry’s contribution to the Philippine economy was almost 30%, but by 2016, the percentage had dropped to 9.65%. With the increasingly cheap food imports, the recurring damages caused by yearly floods and droughts, and the woeful lack of advancement in technology, the Filipino farmer and agriculture industry are forced to go into crisis mode.
“By teching-up agriculture, we can reverse the trend of decline in the agriculture industry through digital transformation and financial inclusion. Our farmers need our support to modernize and create better solutions for the challenges that they are facing,” Amor stressed.
“We need to bring together fresh young minds and people on the ground to co-create the solutions that will solve the most pressing problems in the agriculture,” she added.
It is indeed time to bring back the glory days of agriculture in our country and, as Amor said, revive probably the most important yet dying industry.