YOUNG FARMER. Ryan Palunan, president of the Regional Agriculture Fisheries Council (RAFC) said 4H Club aims to make young people value agriculture by being involved in food production. He said that in the Cordillera, at least 6,500 students have signed in as members of the 4H Club which aims to encourage young people ages 7 to 30 who are single to be part of the program and be trained not just in agriculture. (PNA file photo)

BAGUIO CITY – The Department of Agriculture-Cordillera's (DA-Cordillera) agriculture and fisheries and council is going to schools to spur the youth's interest in agriculture.

Cordillera Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Council (RAFC) president Ryan Palunan, in a phone interview on Monday, said they have about 20,000 4H club members nationwide, with 6,500 in the region.

The 4H club is an acronym for 'Head, Heart, Hands, and Health' aimed at inculcating among young people the importance of knowing the different facets of agriculture, valuing it, participating in food production for food sustainability and eating healthy for a healthy body.

"We are encouraging na maging members ang seven years old sa mga ginagawa natin sa organization sa 4H club (We are encouraging them to become members, accepting as young as seven years old in the activities of the 4H clubs)," said Palunan, who is in his mid-20s and the youngest to become a RAFC chairman in the country.

Club members must be at least seven to 30 years old and single.

"We are registering because we want to integrate the youth in agriculture thru the 4H club which is being handled by the ATI (Agricultural Training Institute) that provides the training," Palunan said.

He said they have organized community-based 4H clubs and school-based clubs to make young people value and be aware of the importance of agriculture.

Kalinga province and Baguio have the most members.

"Mga basic agricultural knowledge ang binibigay tulad ng (They are provided with basic agricultural techniques like) organic agriculture, mushroom production, urban agriculture techniques," he said.

They also conduct leadership training to enhance the young people's personalities, he said.

Palunan said each of the organizations also initiates additional activities based on the school's thrust and that of the club which the RAFC, DA-CAR, and ATI coordinate and help arrange.

He added that they also help arrange short-term exchange scholarships in Japan and Israel as an upcoming site.

"They will be trained and they will re-echo the learning to the communities so that there will be more people who will desire to produce their food," he said.

Programs for the youth's involvement in agriculture had been boosted to address the country's aging farmer population. (PNA)