November 30, 2023

Young farmers from Benguet are the top choice of host farmer organizations in Japan due to their diligence at work.

Benguet Provincial Agriculturist Delinia Juan said being diligent is the reason why the Young Farmers Exchange Program (YFEP) has been going on for a long time between the provincial government and the farmers’ organizations in Japan.

Benguet is set to bring a fresh batch of young farmers to work in Japan for the YFEP, as the province recently renewed its memorandum of agreement with the Kuroshio Agricultural Development Cooperative of Kochi prefecture and the Japan Agricultural Exchange Council (JAEC) of Nagano prefecture.

Juan said each of the 13 municipalities were given a slot of seven young farmers, five males and two females, to be part of the exchange program.

“Though the laws and policies change through time, and a lot of challenges crop up with the young farmers, at least we could see that there are still Japanese host farmers who like farmers from Benguet. That is a source of pride for the province,” Juan said.

She added JAEC and Kochi prefecture have programs being implemented in the province that is why the contracts for YFEP are strengthened and renewed each year.

Many products of the YFEP came back to the province to employ what they have learned from working in Japanese farms and are now successful farmers in the localities.

The program started in 1997 when the first batch of young farmers were sent to Kochi prefecture, which the province has a sisterhood tie with for 48 years now. Through the years, Benguet has sent around 700 young farmers to work in Japan.

Part of the requirement for this year’s applicants of the program is their willingness to actively practice sustainable farming which they learned from their host farmer upon completion of the program in Japan. They must also be willing to undergo on-the-job training at the provincial and MAO if selected. An applicant must also be open-minded, strong-willed, mentally and physically fit to complete training in Japan and can adapt to the Japanese way of living.

She said some ex-trainees, as the OPAG calls former YFEP trainees, were able to send money back home for the duration of the program, which helped their siblings, parents, and families.

But upon returning home, the farmer would go back abroad or find opportunities locally apart from farming to sustain their needs.

Juan said this narrative remains true to most young farmers as some do not have their own lands to till or lack the capital to start farm production.

In spite of this, the young farmers learned and earned from the work exchange program. 

Many of these former trainees also became proficient in Nihongo that some of them are being invited to act as interpreters during official visits to Benguet of Japanese envoys from various agricultural organizations from the government and non-government groups.

The 91 young farmers from the province will be screened by their respective MAO before the July 7 deadline. Interested applicants may inquire in their respective MAOs for more details. – Ofelia C. Empian