Elvin Jerome Laceda is one of the emerging names in the agriculture industry. A social technopreneur, a young farmer, and a lifelong student.
He is also known as the face and Chief Executive Officer of RiceUp Farmers, Inc., an award-winning social enterprise which promotes equitable use of food resources that empowers farmers through training, help them embrace innovative technology, and enrich their lives through enterprise development and integrated family farming.
As young as 27 years old, Elvin is already juggling his time in RiceUp, in United Nations (UN) as Youth Advisory Board Member, as one of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Civil Society Organizations partner, and Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries’ (PCAF) resource person for its Agricultural and Fishery Youthprenuer Council (AFYC).
In an interview, Elvin gladly shared how RiceUp created their own curriculum for farmers where they can learn farming and be successful agripreneurs through their community-based farm schools. The team also helped them connect to the market directly.
He also mentioned that they will be launching soon another web-based application called “Sakahon” that will enable farmers to project the market needs three to six months in advance. This will help the farmers identify where they need to invest resources more, strategically increasing cost production and yield at the same time.
Yet, how exactly Elvin is managing his time with all these activities?
“To begin with, we need to find our ‘whys’,” he said beamingly.
“My grandfather is my inspiration. He was a fisherman and a farmer. I often think that when I am helping a farmer, I am also helping my grandfather. He was the first person who took a chance on me. Although he didn’t see what I have become, what I am doing with RiceUp, but I know he will be proud of me,” he shared.
Elvin, who hailed from a humble family in Lubao, Pampanga, also emphasized that it is important for a young person to know that there are people who are willing to take a chance on them and who will support them in their aspirations.
He also shared that as part of his work as UN Youth Advisory Board Member, they are helping the rural youth to see opportunities in their own provinces. With the scenario that the pandemic created, the youth now are much adept in modern technology which could be a great help to the agriculture and fishery sector in their areas.
“They don’t need to be farmers. They don’t need to till the ground or harvest the crops. Now many young people are good in video editing, in designing, and with their social media skills, they can bring on the table what they are good at. It doesn’t mean that only agriculture practitioners are only welcome here in the industry,” he added.
DA has been encouraging the younger generation to view agriculture and fisheries as viable business ventures that require information dissemination, training and empowerment.
In a separate interview, Secretary William Dar noted that DA have numerous projects to support students and young agripreneurs to start their agri-fishery enterprise and realize their aspirations.
“Aside from these, the youth engagement in agriculture, like the AFYC, is also one of the key strategies we are implementing under the ‘OneDA Reform Agenda’, ” Sec. Dar added.
“We are showing the young people that farming is a noble profession and it is profitable. That is one thing that we want them to understand, that farming is a profitable profession,” Elvin reiterated.
He also wants to convey to the younger generations that they need to participate in the development of the sector.
“I am excited for young people to be involved in creating policies that are very relevant to their needs and to create recommendations and programs in the Department that could directly affect a lot of young people.
Through PCAF, the AFYC can produce that kind of program (through policy recommendations) that can empower the young generation. Through AFYC, it will also create balance, with the experience of the wise farmers combined with the idealism of the young ones. The experience of our farmers is very important, however, we also need to have fresh ideas,” he added.
“We want to show that the hope of the Philippines lies upon the young people. Being involved in the agricultural sector, we need to work now to develop agriculture because when people are well fed, when kids don’t need to work just to fill their stomach, that will help alleviate poverty. That is the foundation of a very prosperous sector,” he said.
What Elvin really wants to tell his generation is that young people can dream and can be part of the revolution to develop the agriculture and fishery sector, through participation. | JC
PCAF’s AFYC is one of the primary actors in the agri-fishery decision-making process, through the participation of youth in the identification and formulation of innovative and sound policy recommendations and influence on the sector’s policy environment.