DAVAO CITY—The academic community is pushing for agri-tourism as a key to economic growth.
President Benigno Aquino III, in last month’s Euromoney Philippine Investment Forum, said his administration’s priority investment sectors—agriculture, tourism and infrastructure—would spell “inclusive growth” in the coming years.
“We’re headed for ‘inclusive growth,’” the President said.
Miguela Mena, Dean of the University of the Philippines Asian Institute of Tourism (UP-AIT), said the combination of agriculture and tourism “presents a massive potential for economic development in rural areas.”
“The future development of agri-tourism in the country must be pursued with due emphasis on science if it is to take on a strategic relevance to national development,” said UP Los Baños Chancellor Rex Victor Cruz.
UP-AIT professor Eli Paolo Fresnoza, who was a presenter in last year’s First National Agritourism Research Conference in the Philippines, also enumerated the many benefits of a strong agri-tourism sector, to include among others: wealth creation in and rejuvenation of hinterland economies, job generation and higher income for farmers, and food security.
During the February Philippine Development Forum hosted by the World Bank, local and foreign participants mentioned agri-tourism as a major factor in an “all-inclusive” development, or one where the presence of jobs and livelihood opportunities are felt by the public.
One of the areas tagged as ideal for agri-tourism is Bukidnon, which is host to vast pineapple and coffee plantations. Aside from Bukidnon, tagged as agri-tourism areas are the strawberry and organic vegetable farms of Benguet and farms in Batangas.
At the World Bank forum, participants agreed that at least 14.6 million jobs would be created by 2016 if the business environment, especially for agriculture and tourism, is improved. Nico Alconaba, Inquirer Mindanao