How can we inspire young people to take an interest in agriculture?
Industry is growing in Laos, along with the associated world of information technology, which is seizing young people’s imagination and bringing them into the modern world. This line of work is a far more attractive proposition than farming, which is hard work and does not always guarantee returns. This trend means people are shunning the land for office work, and agriculture is going into decline. Vientiane Times asked some local folk for their thoughts on how we could encourage more young people to take up agriculture.

Mr Vinai Puemkamon, a resident of Pakngum district: I have three children and my oldest daughter goes to university in the city, as I would like her to work in an office when she graduates. Even though I’m a farmer I don’t want my children to do the same thing. It’s a hard life, but I will continue for the time being. I see the importance and value of agriculture, as the land has been our breadbasket and the source of our sustenance since ancient times. I would like my son to study livestock farming, as nowadays beef and pork are in great demand. I urge young people who want a stable and rewarding career to choose agriculture – that way you’ll learn what life is really about.

Ms Pinpardthana, a resident of Xaythany district: I was born into a farming family and have lived with nature all of my life, so I can say with certainty that agriculture is the best path for young people to follow if they want to be part of the country’s development. These days it seems that teenagers are obsessed with the latest technology and don’t stop to think about the importance of food security. We need to build a big agricultural centre and encourage youngsters to take courses and learn about the most important aspects of agriculture. Then we should give them a low-interest loan to start them off in that line of work. If you can get people interested in agriculture at a young age, it will encourage them to stay in that field and work at it.

Mr Phetkunya Sangxayalath, a student in Sisattanak district: I live in the city so I don’t know much about farming, but from what I see it doesn’t mean you have to spend all day working in the fields – you can work as an official in a government office. I would feel good about telling my friends to realise the importance of agriculture because it was what sustained our grandparents and continues to underpin our survival, so we need to preserve this way of life. I think it’s important to do more organic farming so that we grow fruit and vegetables without using chemicals. This is better for our health and you will have a longer life if you always eat organic food, especially fresh fruit or vegetables that are chemical free.
Ms Duangphet Seevongsa, a government official in Xaythany district: I think it’s important for the government to find more markets for farmers, especially in rural areas. This would ensure that farm products can be sold or exported and bring in a good profit, and young people might be more interested in farming if they knew they were guaranteed a good return. I also think that agriculture should be part of the school curriculum, beginning in primary school, to spark an interest in children from a young age.

Ms Sounantha Keomath, a student in Hadxaifong district: I think agriculture is very useful because it not only provides us with food but contributes to the economy. I plan to do a major in the Environment and Forestry at the National University of Laos, before setting up my own business. For example, I could grow flowers on my family’s land. I’d like to work for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to learn as much as possible and get some real working experience. I’m also trying to urge my friends to become interested in this field as I’m sure it has advantages further down the road.

By Phouthong Sivongsa
(Latest Update September 14, 2018)

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