MANILA, FEBRUARY 2, 2009 (STAR) Instead of nursing, how about tending a nursery? In lieu of a career in civil engineering, how about getting a degree in agriculture, fisheries, soil management of forestry?

Sen. Loren Legarda posed these questions yesterday in the face of the thousands of job losses being feared in the industrial sector here and abroad amidst the global economic slowdown.

The senator said massive layoffs forecasted in factories and allied industries should spur a “re-thinking” of the thrust of Philippine education.

“The Philippines is first and foremost an agricultural country. And even if we strive to become an industrial country, we must first have a solid base in agriculture,” said Loren.

The senator, thus, asked Filipino parents and their children to consider careers in agriculture because the Philippines has hectares upon hectares of arable but idle lands waiting to be tilled.

“It’s just lamentable that the Philippines can only produce about 600,000 metric tons of the seven million metric tons of corn feed,” said Loren, noting that the country has to import the hog and livestock feeds.

“How about our need to import 10 percent of our rice needs and, thus, making us vulnerable to wild price fluctuations of the staple in the international market?”

Loren said a career in agricultural and fisheries for the Filipino youth can modernize the sector and increase output, thereby ensuring the food security of the country.

“No jobs are lost in agriculture. The lands are there. We just have to till them. But for this, our youth and their parents must change their mindset away from white-collar or blue-collar prospect and career paths. I’d like to see more of our youth studing and taking ‘green-collar’ jobs,” she said.

“Green-collar jobs are layoff proof. Hindi komo nasa lupa ng ikinabubuhay ay mababa ng dapat ang tingin natin sa mga magsasaka (Not because one earns a living from the land, that they should be held in low estimation),” added Loren.

“There can be no more loftier or a more noble career than one which provides food to people. At the end of the day, whether you’re an engineer building mega structures, you have to eat. That’s food coming from the sweat and hard toil of our farmers and fishermen.”

Loren said government itself must initiate the use of modern agricultural practices and the provision of mechanized equipment to farming communities.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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