Work to start on turning farms into agritour sites


THE NATIONAL Statistical Coordination Board recently declared that farmers are among the least paid workers in the country with an average daily wage and salary of P156.8. KARLOS MANLUPIG/INQUIRER MINDANAO

DAVAO CITY—Preliminary work will start to develop Bukidnon and three other provinces into agritourism areas by a company led by agribusiness leader Antonio Tiu.

Tiu said the projects will boost farmer income in line with his advocacy to turn agriculture into a vehicle for “all inclusive growth”.

“We’ve commenced preliminary work on how these areas can be developed as destinations for foreign tourists, specifically from countries, with which we have existing tie-ups,” said Tiu, chair and chief executive officer of AgriNurture, an agricultural company.

AgriNurture is considered the country’s biggest mango exporter and fruit and vegetable supplier. He said the preliminary work involved negotiations with farmers in the provinces.

“We can easily fine-tune the details (later), whether to use lease, usufruct agreements or joint ventures with the locals,” Tiu said.

He said he is confident that the development of farmlands into tourism destinations will help uplift the living and work conditions of farmers in Bukidnon and the three other provinces.

Bukidnon, Batangas, Tarlac and Tagaytay are already widely recognized due to their potential to become agritourism destinations.

“Throwing in tourism will create more employment and livelihood opportunities as well as directly increase the income of those already in the industry,” he said.

Tiu said these were his response to President Aquino’s call for increased private sector investment in agriculture, tourism and infrastructure.

Tiu said Mr. Aquino had credited him with helping bring in foreign investments since 2011.

These included the $1.3 billion biomass project in Negros Occidental, which is a partnership between his other company, Greenergy Holdings, and China’s Tianjin Tiambao Investment Development Corp.

Greenergy’s biomass project in San Carlos is the first of such facility to be endorsed by the Department of Energy under the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

“We should be able to make agriculture more viable for the Filipino farmer. What is important is that the farmers and their families benefit from these agritourism projects. If the farmers are rich, (then) the country is rich,” Tiu said. Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao

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