Over 800 agri-fishery graduates embark on agribusiness internship

To involve the youth in agriculture and equip them to become successful agripreneurs, 808 selected agriculture and fishery graduates officially started their internship under the Mentoring and Attracting Youth in Agribusiness (MAYA) program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on 15 March 2021.

“You are the chosen few. You are taking a path forward, a journey, so to speak. The field of agriculture needs all the minds and power that every youth can unleash in terms of elevating and growing Philippine agriculture,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar told the first batch of MAYA interns as he handed over their respective “notice of award” on 10 March 2021 at the DA Central Office in Quezon City.

DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) director Dr. Vivencio R. Mamaril further emphasized that the program will not only provide technical assistance but also serve as a motivation for the youth to be part of different agricultural processes and, later on, be the future leaders of the agricultural sector.

Ang prinispyo ng MAYA program ay ang ating kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan. Kaya ang mga batang ito, gusto natin silang maging parte ng komunidad lalo na sa sektor ng agrikultura kung saan sila matututo kung paano bang mag-produce ng pagkain, kung gaano kahalaga ang pagkain sa bawat Pilipino, at bigyang halaga ‘yung mga taong nagpo-produce o gumagawa ng pagkain para sa ating lahat,” director Mamaril said.

Coordinated by DA-BAR, MAYA is a six-month internship program that aims to transform a cadre of young Filipinos into “agripreneurs” or technocrats.

Director Mamaril said that MAYA will be conducted through experiential learning, or a learner-centric methodology, that will enable the interns, who will receive a monthly allowance of PhP 20,000, to put into immediate use the knowledge and skills that they’ve learned in a relevant fashion.

“The MAYA interns will be mentored by designated DA personnel. The first three weeks will be spent in their holding offices, wherein they will undergo a blended approach of mentoring using a specially-designed curriculum that will equip them either as agripreneur or be a part of the employment-ready workforce of the DA family,” said director Mamaril.

Two hundred forty interns were registered collectively under the care of DA regional field offices while the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources offices have 238. More so, 278 interns were enrolled in DA-National Fisheries Research and Development Institute and the remaining 52 were deployed in different agencies and institutions of the department.

“The last 18 weeks will prepare them for the real world. They will be deployed in DA partner agencies, preferably private organizations involved in food production, for them to have better appreciation, understanding, and awareness of how food is being produced,” he added.

Secretary Dar recalled that when he came forth as the servant-leader at DA in August 2019, he has given special attention to entice the younger generation to agriculture through agribusiness, as for him, it is the way forward to unlock the potential of Philippine agriculture.

“Our personnel staff in agriculture are already aging, and thus we need to put up this MAYA program for two purposes. First, they will have to be exposed to the field of agriculture and agribusiness; and second, to actual farm situation and agribusiness operations,” he added.

Director Mamaril challenged the interns that their learnings should not stop when the program ends. He urged them to use their experiences and learnings in entrepreneurial ventures and the country’s food production system.

Because as Secretary Dar believes, “The youth of today can contribute in attaining our ‘OneDA’ agenda, particularly our four major strategies: farm consolidation, modernization, industrialization, and professionalization.” ### (Rita dela T. Cruz/DA Strat Comms, Chantale T. Francisco, and Jireh Alodia R. Laxamana/DA-BAR)