Modern Agriculture: Key To Faster Recovery and Poverty Reduction?


Philippines is naturally an agricultural country. However, the country’s focus on this is not felt as much as it should be. But will modern agriculture bring the needed change in the agricultural sector? Read to know more about modern agriculture and how it is the key to poverty reduction.

The Ailing Agricultural Sector in the Philippines

With more than 47% of the 30 million hectare land area of the Philippines classified as agricultural land, it is no wonder why the country’s often tagged as an agricultural country. Let’s delve into the numbers with regard to the country’s top exports: mangoes with an export value of Php 756M, tobacco with an export value of Php 6.47B, pineapple with an export value of Php 15.49B, and bananas with an export value of a whopping Php 81.59B. And those are just the products from farming! Aside from farming, the agriculture sector of the Philippines is further divided into three more subsections namely fisheries, livestock, and forestry. Altogether, the country’s agricultural sector has amassed over Php 1.78T of gross value added constituting over 10.2% of the country’s gross domestic product. Moreover, did you know that one of the fast-emerging cities in the Visayas, the city of Ormoc in Leyte, is a massive agricultural sector! It is one of the frontrunners in producing rice, pineapples, sugar canes, and more in the country.

However, even with its behemoth contribution to the country’s gross domestic product, the sector is heavily undervalued which stunts its growth. This is primarily due to the high conversion rates of these agricultural land to residential and commercial land. On top of that, the people from the rural communities where these agricultural lands are located are still living below the poverty line. The apparent lack of incentives for our agricultural workers, who are often overworked and underpaid, pushes these people to leave their rural communities and look for better job opportunities that would alleviate the poor living conditions they are suffering from. This is further aggravated by the negative economic effects of the pandemic we have and are still experiencing in the status quo. As a consequence, fewer and fewer Filipinos engage themselves with the already ailing sector.

But alas! Due to technological advancements and the continuous progress in terms of agricultural research, it resulted in the birth of modern agriculture. Modern agriculture is defined as the innovative approach to agricultural labor and farming practices that facilitate the efficiency of our agricultural workers and the cutting down of the consumption of natural resources like water, land, and energy for a more sustainable manner of supplying the never-ending demand for the world’s food, fuel, and fiber needs.

In the western countries, the modernization of the agriculture can be traced back to the 18th century during the “Industrial Revolution”. During this period, there has been a drastic shift from agrarian and handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacturing. However. This did not leave the agriculture sector behind as such is an integral and indispensable part of society. The advancement brought about by this period with regard to transportation, infrastructure, and manufacturing also influenced how people are able to harvest crops and other agricultural products.during this phase, selective cross-breeding commenced on a macro level scale with the purpose of improving and enlarging crop size. Animal husbandry also has taken a large leap, which led to the increase in the supply of livestocks to meet the population boom during this era. Scientific advancements, particularly that of Charles Darwin’s “Theory of Evolution” also immensely contributed to the further understanding of crop development.

In the Philippines, the earliest effort to modernize agriculture was reflected in a legislative act of government in the form of R.A. 8435 otherwise known as Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) of 1998. This prompted the enactment of other laws for the purpose of adopting new measures and techniques in the improvement of agriculture in the Philippines. The latest one being Republic Act 10068, or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, which ought to rev up the rice industry of the country removing the need of importing rice, the most consumed crop in the country.

How can Modern Agriculture be a Catalyst to the Ailing Sector?

In this article, we will talk about how modern agriculture is a catalyst in faster recovery and the reduction of poverty. The discussion can be easily remembered by the main battle cry of this article – agriculture FIRST! (Food security, Incentivizes agricultural work, Reduction of time and effort, Sustainability in terms of environmental effects, and Transforming public perception of agriculture).


Considering the fact that the Philippines is an agricultural country, it is a shame that a lot of our fellow Filipinos still struggle to put food on their tables. There is a myriad of factors that affect such problems ranging from the simplest of reasons such as lack of job opportunities preventing them to gain income to provide for their needs, to more widespread and systematic structural limitations brought about by the cycle of poverty.

But focusing on the factors relevant to our discussion, the problem of food insecurity drastically hampers the lives of the people. Food security is the nation’s capacity to provide its population with an accessible and constant supply of food without compromising its quality. The beauty of modern agriculture is that it is hitting two birds with one stone: increasing the production of food and maintaining and/or increasing its nutritional value.

The problem with a country’s food insecurity is anchored on the fact that it is unable to supply the nation’s constant need for food due to a variety of factors. However, modern agriculture provides a solution to solve this crisis. Due to the development of technology and agricultural techniques increasing the quantity of production of raw ingredients for our food, it produces enough food for the people and in some cases generates surplus for export and in times of calamity where farming and other agricultural works are limited. Further, this gives rise to the possible lowering of food prices which makes such food products accessible even for the poorest of the poor.

Additionally, the progress in terms of agricultural research birthed genetically modified organisms or GMOs. GMOs are often given a bad rep as there is a misconception that it is unhealthy for human consumption. However, a plethora of scientific research has conclusively disputed this claim. With all of these it is safe to assume that through modern agriculture, it will aid the nation’s goal to solve its problem of food insecurity.


The common reason why people don’t engage with the agriculture sector is that it involves very laborious and rigorous effort and that such effort is not compensated properly. We’ll delve deeper into how modern agriculture significantly reduces the time and effort involved in the subsequent discussion seen below. As to how modern agriculture solves the issue of the lack of benefits and incentives in agricultural work, the lessened amount of physical effort would entice people to go back to agricultural labor,

Onto the first point: the lessened amount of physical effort would entice people to go back to agricultural labor. As established before, people from rural communities where such agricultural lands are mostly located choose to look for better job opportunities because the amount of physical strain brought about by agricultural work is disproportionate to the money they receive for their work. Through modern agriculture, which increases the efficiency of our agricultural methods and techniques, the amount of physical work is lessened. As such, together with additional government incentives to the agricultural sector, it would lead these people back to agricultural work. Such additional incentives and investments by the government are also most likely to happen primarily because of the increased interest in the agricultural sector considering the advantages of modernizing the said sector.


As previously mentioned, due to technological advancements and the increased research with the goal of increasing the efficiency of agricultural labor, this would bring about a drastic reduction in the time and effort spent by agricultural workers in the cultivation of the products.

Take for example the initiative by the Department of Agriculture wherein they integrated advanced machines to facilitate farm productivity such as the use of drones to monitor, on a macro level, the status of the crops in our farms and fields. Through their research as well, they are able to come up with an automated system that would reduce the amount of waste produced in the fields through analytics. They also have strengthened the digitization of farming and agribusiness in the Philippines through digital databases. This progress is welcomed and will surely usher in a new and improved agricultural sector in the Philippine context.


Arguably one of the best things that have come out of modern agriculture, such advancements would greatly help in strengthening food security in a sustainable manner. The resources that we have on earth are very limited. As such, it is incumbent upon us to develop certain mechanisms to provide food for our people while maintaining the longevity of our natural resources and ensuring that the environment is not negatively affected by the practiced measures. That is why modern agriculture is now geared towards a more sustainable and ecological approach. Through the hard work of our agricultural workers, specialists, and scientists, modern agriculture has reached a point where we are able to strike a balance between the commonly perceived polarizing aspects of agriculture.

A perfect example of this is how livestock waste can be utilized to generate heat and electrical energy through the gas emissions that it releases. These gas emissions, particularly methane, are trapped and captured, and utilized for previously mentioned purposes. In that way, such gas, which would contribute to global warming if released into the atmosphere. Other agricultural techniques such as traditional (low-impact) way of farming and seasonal grazing of livestock also positively affect its immediate environment as it would lead to the healthy regrowth of high-biodiversity vegetation. If you want to volunteer in environmental organizations, check this article from BRIA Homes– Bria Affordable House and Lot: Top 10 Environmental Organizations You Can Volunteer For


As established earlier, more and more people are leaving the agricultural sector to seek for, ironically for lack of a better term, greener pastures. However, through modern agriculture, this would arguably make these people return to agriculture and maybe, entice other people as well to consider agriculture as a viable work opportunity.

Additionally, the rise of modern agriculture would increase the discourse on the viability of working in the agricultural sector. Because of the increased public attention and interest in agriculture, a renewed positive public perception of agriculture is inevitable. Gone are the days when farmers and fisherfolks are looked down upon because of their job. Together with additional and robust government support for our agricultural workers, the increased recognition and standard of living that should be rightfully afforded to them is on the horizon.

In conclusion, modern agriculture is a welcome development that must be embraced by everybody. As they say, there is no other way to go but up. We should all strive for progress, especially in the agricultural sector which literally feeds the mouths of the entire world. However, with progress comes the added responsibility of preserving the very environment where we source our food from. It is only right, just, and equitable that we should always be conscious of the kind of progress that we want to achieve. Lest we want to be the very last generation to enjoy the beauty of mother earth which provides us with all that we need to survive, we must always bear in mind the importance of preserving our environment. Indeed, modern agriculture has helped us to alleviate the people from the existing crises of food insecurity, but a new agricultural revolution is on the horizon as more and more studies on biotechnology brings forward improvements in agricultural science, further improving the sector in general. As such, if we want to achieve a society where no house is left without food on the table, improving and modernizing the agricultural sector is a big step in the attainment of such a goal.