By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Twelve Department of Tourism (DOT)-identified ecotourism sites in Region 4-A (CALABARZON – Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) are hoped to be integrated with farm sites to lure more tourists and help boost farmers’ income.
“Agritourism is an innovative pathway of us at Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) to achieve our goal of Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development that should benefit small farmers,” SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said.
The farms that will be integrated into group destinations are, Kaharian Farm in Lipa, Batangas; Forest Wood Garden in San Pablo City, Laguna; Ato Belen’s Farm in San Pablo City ; Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna; Flor’s Garden & Nature Haven Inc. in Antipolo City, Rizal; Teofely Nature Farms in Silang, Cavite; Domingo Permafarms in Antipolo City; Chad’s Nature Farm in Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas; Nurture Farmacy in Amadeo, Cavite; Terra Verde Ecofarm in Maragondon, Cavite; Moca Family Farm in Padre Garcia, Batangas; and Graco Farms in Pila, Laguna.
SEARCA has been pushing for the development of the farm tourism sector, recognizing it is a way to integrate small farmers into the bigger supply chain, as well as promoting practice of environment-friendly agriculture.
According to DOT-CALABARZON Director Rebecca Villanueva-Labit, the farm ecotourism sites will be promoted by the DOT in a way that will maximize use of resources through integration.
“The envisioned integration of tourism and farming allows more efficient resource utilization which can provide jobs, increase income, business opportunities, and reduce urban migration,” Villanueva-Labit said.
“Farm tourism has the potential to sustain agricultural practices due to a steady stream of income that is less dependent on weather, markets, pests, or diseases,” she added.
In line with this, SEARCA has formed an agreement with the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) to jointly organize two landmark international conferences on farm tourism namely Global Farm Tourism Summit in July 2018, and the Asia Women Leaders Meet in December 4-6, 2018.
Based on DOT data, the Philippines received an income of P164.25 billion from tourist arrivals in 2016, up by 7.92 percent from P152.19 billion in 2015.
Since small farmers need to have numerous income stream in order to become globally competitive in light of ASEAN integration, farm tourism will be a key to helping lift farmers out of poverty, Saguiguit said.