The statistics which say that the average age of Filipino farmers is 54 years old may have to be changed soon.
As farming in the country embraces modern technology and becomes more profitable, more young college graduates are going back to agriculture instead of seeking jobs in the big cities.
In the mountainous village of Sitio Cada, Brgy Balili, Mangkayan, Benguet, two young men in their early 30s are running one of the most modern and successful strawberry farms in the country.
In fact, the John Kenny Strawberry Farm owned by young farmer Kenny Ching and his father, Francisco, and managed by Kenny's cousin, Marvin Marcos, was chosen as a Gawad Saka Awardee for Outstanding Agricultural Endeavour in 2012.
The maintenance manager of the farm, Mervin Leonsanda, also in his early 40s, is a Davaoeño who married an Igorot lass and has stayed in Benguet for good.
Unlike other strawberry farms, the John Kenny Strawberries are grown not in the open fields but in elevated plots held by long plastic receptacles supported by metal frames.
Irrigation and fertilisation are done by the Drip System where plastic water tubes with perforations run through the whole elevated plots.
The technique has allowed the young agri-preneurs to grow more strawberries in a small area of only 1.5 hectares which produces about 15 tons of the Festival Variety of strawberry.
The plastic roofing of the greenhouse has also protected the farm from inclement weather and heavy rains which usually devastate strawberry farms in the open fields.
At a per kilo price of P100 at farm gate, the farm makes a gross income of P1.5-million monthly.
"We could not keep up with the demand," said Kenny.
The project is so successful that investors have enticed the young men to partner with them and start a similar strawberry farm in other parts of the country.
The two young men, however, have their hands full in the John Kenny Farm.
When I visited the John Kenny Farm on Good Friday, Kenny said he only had one complaint against government and that is the very slow processing of their papers for the importation of good strawberry seeds.
"Strawberries will only give good yield on its first year. After that, you will notice the deterioration in the quality of its fruits and the volume of production," he said.
The variety that the farm uses, the Festival Variety, comes from Florida in the U.S. and it is their preferred variety because of its longer shelf life of 3 days.
"Other strawberry varieties could not be displayed in the shelf for over one day. The Festival Variety could withstand long hauls and remain fresh for up to 3 days," he said.
In response to his complaint, I assured Kenny that the processing of their import documents by the Bureau of Plant Industry would be fast tracked, just like the other documents now being processed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
I also informed him that loan funds are available for young farmers like him who would like to start a venture in agriculture.
With John Kenny Farms' success and the increasing profitability of farming in the Philippines, it will not be a surprise if a few years from now, young agriculture and fisheries graduates would rather start their own farms than seek employment.