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Cultivating a New Crop of Leaders with Young Farmers Challenge (YFC)

Eighteen (18) Young Farmers Challenge Awardees from NCR, Region III, and IV-A are given a chance to visit sustainable livelihood programs of Sen. Cynthia Villar such as the Plastic Chairs Factory, Bamboo Factory, Waterlily Factory, Coconet Factory, Carabao Pen and Farm School last August 04, 2023. This activity is part of the Business Development Services to be provided by the DA-AMAS and AMADs to ensure that the YFC awardees will acquire knowledge in agricultural latest trends. (DA Agribusiness - AMAS FB)

The Young Farmers Challenge (YFC) Start-Up program is making waves in the agricultural sector, offering competitive financial grant assistance to Filipino youth eager to engage in new agri-fishery enterprises. With the average age of farmers in the country standing at 57, the YFC Program aims to bridge the generation gap and inspire the next generation of agricultural leaders.

As an agricultural country with an average population of 117 million, the Philippines currently has less than 11 million farmers, a number that continues to dwindle by 1.5% each year, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics 2015. The concern for future generations of farmers is eminent, as more parents aspire for their children to pursue non-farming jobs that offer higher wages. With the average age of the population at a youthful 25.7 years old, the country must tap into its young talent to maintain a sustainable agricultural industry.

The YFC Program, spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture (DA), provides opportunities for Filipino youth to develop a Business Model Canvas (BMC) and run their own agricultural businesses. The competitive financial grant assistance offered by the program acts as a start-up capital for individual youth or group-managed ventures in the agri-fishery sector.

Since its inception, the YFC Program has garnered remarkable success. In 2022 alone, it assisted 1,384 youth beneficiaries and facilitated the establishment of 914 small agri-fishery enterprises. These additions are a testament to the remarkable growth of the program, which boasted 806 youth-led businesses during its first run in 2021.

Initiated by the DA's Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (DA-AMAS), the YFC Program encourages youth engagement through financial grants made possible by the Office of Senator Imee Marcos. Alongside the grants, participants receive valuable business development services aimed at enhancing their understanding of agriculture and agribusiness management. Additionally, the program provides credit access through the DA's Agricultural Credit Policy Council's (ACPC) Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs (KAYA) and Agri-Negosyo Loan Programs (ANLP), ensuring the sustainability and growth of the enterprises.

The YFC Program is open to all Filipino youth between the ages of 18 and 30, who possess a genuine interest in pursuing agriculture and fishery business enterprises. The program even extends its invitation to out-of-school youth and encourages groups and associations to apply. Applicants with prior agriculture and fishery experience or related training are preferred, and groups can consist of a maximum of five members.

In a show of support, Senator Imee Marcos filed Senate Bill No. 884, which is an act launching the “Young Farmers Challenge Program” where the youth sector is encouraged to participate in agriculture. It also seeks to address poverty, inequality, lack of social mobility among the young farmers who are burdened by their lack of access to knowledge, information and education; lack of affordable credit or available land to fill; lack of “green jobs”; and lack of participation venues for the youth in agricultural policy debate and formulation. The enactment of this bill would solidify the YFC Program's position in empowering the youth to take on leadership roles in agri-fishery enterprises.

By nurturing the youth sector's interest in agriculture and fisheries, the YFC Program plays a crucial role in ensuring the country's food security and preserving the vitality of the agricultural sector. As the Philippines looks towards a brighter future, the young farmers of today will become the agri-fisheries leaders of tomorrow, leading the nation to new heights of prosperity and sustainability.

YFC grantees at WOFEX Manila 2023

WOFEX WorldFood Expo Manila 2023 is proud to join hands with DA in setting-up the Young Farmers Pavilion at the World Trade Center in Pasay City from August 2-5, 2023. This pavilion showcases innovative, regional fresh and processed products, featuring the efforts of young entrepreneurs who have ventured into agriculture with the support of the Young Farmers Challenge Program. 

By visiting the pavilion, attendees can meet these inspiring young farmers, see their products, and support their endeavors to bring fresh and nutritious food to the tables of Filipinos.

Participants from every region were each given their respective booths where they can demonstrate, explain and sell their produce.

WOFEX is one of the biggest food trade shows in the Philippines. For more than 20 years, it has consistently been the most attended and most awaited food and hospitality event. (PIA-NCR)

About the Author

Alice Sicat

Information Officer IV

National Capital Region

Assistant Regional Director of PIA-NCR

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