We need next generation farmers – chief

by ROCKY NGALOB
www.nordis.net

BANAUE, IFUGAO – Citing the National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA) awardees the Amganad Music and Dance Esemble’s award winning piece, Banaue Mayor Jerry Dalipog stressed the need for more youth involvement in the promotion of agriculture in their municipality to save the world-known Banaue Rice Terraces.

More than just a festival performance, Amganad Music and Dance Ensemble through indigenous music and dance showcased the traditional Ifugao practice of rice production from the indigenous collective mode of planting and harvesting to the Tuwali way of thanking their deity for bountiful harvest. But more importantly, their cultural award winning piece hopes to encourage the Ifugao youth of the importance of revitalizing their indigenous customs at the same time promote agriculture as a vital key in addressing the adverse effects of modernization.

Dalipog disclosed before the media during his press conference that 332 from the 1,600 hectares of their terraces have already been damaged. Most common reason according to him is the rice paddies have been deserted by the next generation farmers.

“Due to the changing times, our next generation farmers are close to being extinct. Our youth today in Banaue are induced to take up courses that would take them to jobs abroad. This is the main cause of the said extinction of local farmers. Some even choose not to return to Banaue or home after finishing college in Baguio because they do not want farming as their profession. Sadly, education became their ticket out of Banaue and to escape farming which should not be the case”, said Banaue Mayor Jerry Dalipog.

Dalipog added that their municipality offers scholarships to students in the Ifugao State University to take agricultural courses. However, according to Dalipog for 23 scholarship offers, no students have approached them yet.

Dalipog added that the sole purpose for the restoration of Banaue Rice Terraces is for protection of the cultural identity of the Tuwali people of Banaue, Ifugao. “The 8th world Rice Terraces is Banaue’s identity and its future now rest in the hands of our youth”, said Dalipog.

Also aside from encouraging the youth to carry the torch as started by their elders in preserving Banaue Rice Terraces, Dalipog also seeks financial support from the national government to be allotted for the restoration of their terraces. As recalled three years ago, the national government allotted 20 million for the restoration of the Terraces through the Department of Agriculture (DA). Now, an additional 14 million was given to the municipality to answer Dalipog’s request for assistance.# nordis.net

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