Agriculture and tourism play a huge role for our country, which is why agricultural tourism in the Philippines has started to flourish. Considered the country’s fledgling industry, farm tourism is a logical and refreshing new addition to the list of projects that generate additional income for Filipino farmers. It also perfectly responded to the growing interest of many people to participate in the production of healthy food with their families.
By combining agriculture and tourism, the agribusiness industry has slowly opened up more inclusive and sustainable opportunities not only for farmers, but also for institutions nationwide. Today, as agri-food tourism continues to become a growing tourism sub-sector, lawmakers and experts have turned their heads to develop the industry. Yet not everyone knows about farm tourism and its benefits.
In this article, we talk about farm tourism in the Philippines, its importance to the many activities you can try while visiting these tourist farms.
What is agrotourism?
Farm tourism involves attracting visitors to agricultural areas generally for educational and recreational purposes while encouraging economic activities that can provide both additional income to the farm and to the community. Perhaps the most famous example of farm tourism in the Philippines is the La Trinidad Strawberry Farm in Benguet. However, as a booming industry, more and more farms began to open their doors to tourists.
There are many farm tourism activities that can be experienced while visiting rural farms. Kids and adults can feed animals, collect eggs, do nature-based crafts, try horseback riding, go hiking, eat meals with fresh-cut vegetables, pick fruits and harvest vegetables , try new varieties of fruit juice or wine, create community-based products, or even spend the night in the region. Activities vary depending on the farm visited.
These quaint farmhouses offer a charming change of pace from the hustle and bustle of city life. Don’t get me wrong, these farms are still absolutely gorgeous! Some can even be used as an intimate wedding venue for the introverted couple.
The benefits of farm tourism
Senator Cynthia A. Villar, Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee, sees agricultural tourism as one of the Philippines’ sunny industries that can be pursued due to the agricultural nature of our economy.
She noted that farmers and fishermen need to diversify and supplement their farm incomes, and farm tourism is a creative way to achieve this goal. As a sign of his support and enthusiasm for such projects, Villar continues to work on vital legislation and amendments to existing laws to complement this growing sub-sector of the tourism industry. She even launched a farm tourism book to provide more information about the industry. It would appear that farmers somehow share this view, as many farmers-turned-farm tourism operators said they earned more from this new business than from their usual harvest during a Senate hearing.
The President and Project Director of the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST), Dr Mina Gabor, is also supportive of the industry, saying farm tourism camps focus on low-impact travel and empower communities. local socially and economically.
“Agricultural tourism attracts visitors and travelers to agricultural areas, usually for educational and recreational purposes that encourage economic activity to provide agricultural and community income,” she said of the benefits of agricultural tourism. .
In addition to the economic impact of agricultural sites, agrotourism sites also help promote tourism and the products of the region, especially those produced and manufactured by rural industries. It is a common practice all over the world. In fact, some of the famous tourist sites in Europe and the United States are farms.
In Costa Rica, a famous coffee plantation has finally set up one of the best ecolodges in the world where you can stay and wake up the next morning to visit the plantation and try your hand at picking coffee berries. It also has a wonderful restaurant that serves its famous varieties of coffee, sells coffee-based soaps and other farm produce.
In Italy, you can rent a cottage located in the middle of the farm. If you want to cook your own meal, he can provide the ingredients, like fruits and vegetables, which you can pick right outside your door.
A common factor for these farms, no matter where they are located, is that many jobs and income generated for the community come from this activity.
Farm tourism in the Philippines
Farm tourism has spread throughout the country and is slowly becoming a stable source of income and development. It is no longer confined to the usual tourist spots, but even in rural areas. Of course, farm tourism in Nueva Ecija and other agricultural regions is booming.
There are about 100 or more accredited and non-accredited agritourism sites in the country, ranging in size from micro, small, medium and large. Some of the most successful tourist farms, also called farm camps, in the country include: sunflower farms in Ligao town, Albay province; Valley of Rapha in the city of Don Salvador Benedicto, province of Negros Occidental; Dragon Fruit Farm in the municipality of Burgos, province of Ilocos Norte; Dasoland in Dasol City, Pangasinan Province; and the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center Foundation Inc.’s Disneyworld of Farming Systems in Bansalan Municipality, Davao del Sur Province. To this day, there are still small business developers and owners who are also converting their old farms into farming camps.
In addition to Senator Villar’s initiatives, President Aquino also signed Republic Act 10816, or the Agricultural Tourism Development Act of 2016. Under the new law, an Agricultural Tourism Development Board will be established to formulate plans and programs for the development and promotion of agricultural tourism. in the country and sets the general direction for the implementation of the strategic action plan for agrotourism. Currently, the current administration has expressed a desire to focus on both agriculture and tourism.
Why Farm Tourism Matters: Agriculture and Tourism
It is no secret that rural economic conditions are not the best. Farmers and fishermen, more importantly, have very low incomes. Tourist farms and farm camps offer Filipino farmers, fishermen, and agricultural workers a creative way to earn more without disrupting their daily routines and jobs.
The booming industry is still on the rise. However, with a little help and more education, farm tourism can be the answer to economic and cultural development in rural areas. Time and effort will only tell the end results.
Image credits: Joel C. Paredes