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GOING BEYOND BEACHES

It’s more fun–and profitable–with farm tourism, Puyat hopes

/ 07:12 AM September 02, 2018

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat. INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

TAGAYTAY CITY—Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has sought to ease the concerns of ordinary farmers as farm tourism take a foothold in the country.

Farm tourism will help boost the agriculture sector, which constitutes just 9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, Puyat said at the Meet Inquirer Multimedia forum last week.

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“Farm tourism sites can only help agriculture. Number one because (it) encourages the tourists to go to the farms,” she said.

Puyat, who served as agriculture undersecretary before being appointed to head the Department of Tourism (DOT), said the enactment of the Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016 also helped promote agriculture.

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“When I entered the DA (Department of Agriculture), nobody was really interested in agriculture. It wasn’t considered cool, honestly. Now everybody wants to buy local, everybody wants to support local,” she said.

Accredited farms

“Now people just don’t look at the beaches, they just don’t go shopping. They also like to go to the farms and harvest [the produce] themselves,” Puyat said.

Puyat said at least 10 accredited farm sites joined the recent food and travel expo Philippine Harvest, which showcased local products from different parts of the country.

In July, the DOT and the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) also hosted the first Global Farm Tourism Summit that sought to promote the emerging trend among farm owners, local governments and the academe.

Dr. Mina Gabor, ISST president, said converting farmlands into tourist destinations “has changed completely the whole scenario of farming.”

 

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Grapes, oranges

Gabor said that ever since the farm tourism law was enacted, they had seen “indications” of an uptrend in the sector. She conceded, though, that it was “too early” to come up with figures on farm tourism arrivals and the revenues generated.

The DOT coordinates with the regional agriculture offices in identifying farm tourism sites in the provinces, Puyat said.

Among the existing destinations, she said, are the grape farms in La Union, an orange farm in Sagada, Mountain Province; and the Costales Nature Farm in Majayjay, Laguna.

Farm tourism also helps promote indigenous products like the adlai grains that are being produced in Mindanao.

At the summit, Cavite State University (CvSU) president Dr. Ruperto Sangalang said there were about 32 accredited farm tourism projects in the Philippines, about half of which are located in the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon region.

“Inclusiveness [of the poor farmers is also] an important concern … How can they benefit from this booming farm tourism projects,” Sangalang said.

CvSu plans to open an 8- to 10-hectare farm in Indang, Cavite, as a university-run farm tourism site.

Cluster destinations

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture, with headquarters at the University of the Philippines Los Baños in Laguna, will also open an agricultural museum to highlight the importance of food security.

Gabor said they would encourage the creation of “cluster destinations” wherein a single destination could offer a variety of products.

“Even the youth are more interested in agriculture. The Philippines is so beautiful, it’s so easy to sell,” Puyat said.

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