(Former senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan calls on the youth to take an active role in society. Photo by Kathryn V. Baylon)

January 19, 2016, 1:26a.m. – DEVELOPING the country’s agriculture sector will reduce poverty, and young people can help by taking up farming, according to a senatorial candidate of the ruling Liberal Party.

Former senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, who had served as presidential adviser on agriculture, said the lack of interest in farming among young people could be a problem in the future.

“[If] you shape up agriculture, you can stop poverty. I’d like to come up with a program wherein young people will go into farming,” he said in a press conference Monday. “If the new generation of Filipinos don’t want to farm anymore, that’s really a serious challenge.”

Philippine agriculture has seen a steady decline in the past decades. Agriculture’s share of the Philippine economy has dwindled to just over a tenth from more than 30 percent in the 1970s. Still, about a third of the country’s workers are employed in the farm sector, leading to high poverty incidence.

Pangilinan also vowed to help train the youth by providing support to state universities. “[I would like to] strengthen and provide opportunities for education. I would like to expand scholarship and ‘study now, pay later’ programs so that anyone who wants to study has access to quality education,” he said.

Pangilinan, a former Quezon City councilor, won a seat at the Senate in 2001 and was reelected in 2007.

The press conference was organized by BlogWatch, a citizen advocacy group, in partnership with Aktiboto, a voter education program spearheaded by the UST Central Commission on Elections. Kathryn Jedi V. Baylon and Alhex Adrea M. Peralta


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