Early March this year, the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) opened up an internship program that attracted numerous agriculture graduates across the country. The quote, “many have tried but only a few are chosen,” emerged as the selection of interns was cut by 793 from the pool of 3,000 applicants. Sixteen of which were the chosen few from Caraga region.
Given the existing landscape of challenges in the agriculture sector, the Mentoring and Attracting Youth in Agribusiness or MAYA was established to expand a new gamut of the agriculture sector that is profitable, lucrative, and enticing. That is the reason why the internship program was created in order to develop a competent, highly-skilled, and employment-ready youthful workforce. It has also been noted that the workforce in the sector has been aging – the reason why MAYA seeks to take on the challenge.
Challenge disguised as opportunity
Ready to take on the challenge were the 16 interns from four provinces in the region. One intern that outstands her batch because of her drive to innovate technology for Cacao is Ana Fe Daal from Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. Daal was not new to internship programs since she was one of the agriculture students all over the Philippines, that was sent to Israel to further her capability on the field when she was still in her undergraduate studies.
“During my college days, I was one of the chosen agricultural students that were sent to Israel to improve what I learned in the field. But even though I can say that I collectively had all the knowledge needed, I still have that urge to improve on my craft. That is the reason why I applied to MAYA and luckily garnered a spot out of thousands of applications,” Daal said.
Daal who chose the Entrepreneurship Track of the program envisioned to improve technology and processing on Cacao commodity. However, she no longer has to envision as she clinched one of the ten spots for the Best MAYA Intern Business Proposal Competition that was held last June where she focused on Tablea Processing and Marketing.
“One of the reasons that pushed me to pursue tablea is because, as a daughter of a cacao farmer, i have seen the opportunities that we can get out of it. Through correct processing and marketing, it will create a ripple effect in the community I live in and more opportunities on tablea processing will come through,” Daal said.
Discipline creates success
To reach your goals, discipline must be set forward, that is how Michael Troza who chose Employment Track from Los Angeles, Butuan City built his path towards success. Among the 16 interns, Troza was recognized as the Best MAYA Intern from his batch during the MAYA Awards. He recalled that his willingness and discipline made him notable among his peers.
“After being awarded as Best MAYA intern, I thought of it as not just a mere recognition but a role that I must embody as a licensed agriculturist. I was glad but I was more challenged given the load of the recognition. My edge among my batch mates was the pure willingness with the work that I do and respect to the hustle my mentors have been doing just to improve our knowledge,” Troza said.
When asked about his plans after his stint in the program, Troza blissfully said that he wanted to pursue employment in the sector. “Others may find solace in agribusiness but for me, I want to serve the country and the people, so I want to work in the government. I am just waiting for opportunities to knock on my door,” he added.
Once in a lifetime opportunity
For Jirah Balinton of Talocogon, Agusan del Sur, opportunities do not come twice hence she grabbed that opportunity tightly making her one represent Caraga region among hundreds of hopeful applicants. As a graduate of Animal Science, she was able to experience what is it like to work in the livestock sector.
“As an animal science graduate, we were taught the basic procedures on taking care of pigs, cows, and other livestock animals but when I had my deployment in Del Monte Research Station, I realized that it wasn’t just about taking care of them, it is all about understanding the animals. All of these were far behind from the theories we’ve learned during college, this MAYA opportunity was an actual experience where we indulged into the real world of farmers,” Balinton said.
Different procedures and actual field demonstrations were taught in the span of 3 months to the MAYA interns. Some of these include blood sampling, ear tagging, and leg banding, supplementation on ruminant livestock, vaccination of poultry animals, deworming, and weaning of piglets. Excluded are the technical lessons and demonstrations of different crops and commodities.
The future awaits
For Ana, Michael, Jirah, and the rest of the first batch of MAYA interns in Caraga, the program opened life lessons and knowledge they can enjoy in their future endeavors. Their experiential learnings will level up the sector beyond its production-focused orientation, the entire input production, farm operations, processing, marketing, and trading to name a few. These interns are the chosen few that are harnessed in making agriculture an entrepreneurial choice among them.
Badged with enough knowledge and courage to be the next prime mover in agriculture, these interns are transformed to go beyond. From principles to practices, the future awaits. (Kent Warren H. Fugoso/DA-RAFIS13/PIA Caraga)