SEN. CYNTHIA VILLAR: She Bats For Agri-tourism In The Philippines

SEN. CYNTHIA VILLAR: She Bats For Agri-tourism In The Philippines
SEN. CYNTHIA VILLAR: She Bats For Agri-tourism In The Philippines
SEN. CYNTHIA VILLAR (center) and members of her mission to observe best practices in agri-tourism in Taiwan. They include Rep. Carlos Padilla Jr. of Nueva Vizcaya and four governors, other government officials and farmers.

A bill that will help develop agri-tourism in the Philippines has been filed in the Senate spearheaded by Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

This is Senate bill 2766 also known as the Farm Tourism Act of 2015. The pending bill seeks to specify the programs that must be done to promote and support farm tourism as well as create the Philippine Farm Tourism Industry Development Coordinating Council.

The bill also seeks to ensure that policies and programs of government, including local government units, state universities and colleges and schools, and the activities of the private sector, are harmonized towards the development and promotion of farm tourism, according to Sen. Villar.

Sen Villar said agri-tourism can be considered as the sunshine industry in the agriculture sector. She believes in its potential to augment the income of our people in agriculture that’s why she and her colleagues are working on this bill that will allow farmers and fisher folks to seize this opportunity.

SEN. CYNTHIA VILLAR: She Bats For Agri-tourism In The Philippines
SEN. CYNTHIA VILLAR in front of gorgeous Phalaenopsis orchids at the Taipei Agricultural Products Market.

The lady senator stressed that farm tourism can also help solve the problem of urban migration which is placing stress on public services in urban areas. With economic development in the rural areas, urban migration will be curtailed. Farm tourism would contribute to rural development. Those in the provinces will not have to go to the congested cities to look for employment.

Sen. Villar revealed that at present, the Philippines has a total of 32 agri-tourism sites, including 27 protected areas consisting of strawberry and organic vegetable farms in Benguet as well as pineapple and coffee plantations in Bukidnon.

SEN. CYNTHIA VILLAR: She Bats For Agri-tourism In The Philippines
MRS. MAY UY showing organic products available in her May’s Organic Garden and Restaurant in Bacolod City.

Recently Villar was in Negros Occidental to gather inputs on the attractions and management of farm tourism sites there. Among the farms she visited were the Fresh Start Organics of Chin Chin Uy, May’s Organic Garden and Restaurant of Mrs. May Uy in Bacolod City, and the Rapha Valley farm in Don Salvador Benedicto town.

Last June 22-25, Sen. Villar also led a mission to Taiwan to observe the best practices in Taiwan in promoting and developing agri-tourism as well as share the Philippines’ experience in the area. The group included a congressman, four governors, government officials and a number of entrepreneurs and farmers.

SEN. CYNTHIA VILLAR: She Bats For Agri-tourism In The Philippines
MEMBERS of the agri-tourism mission to Taiwan headed by Sen. Villar take their dinner at the steakhouse of Flying Cow Ranch in Miaoli county.

Taiwan is way ahead in developing its leisure farms as agri-tourist destinations not only for local visitors but also for foreign groups. Instrumental in developing agri-tourism in Taiwan is the Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association which currently counts about 300 members from all over the country.

Leisure farm development in Taiwan was adopted by the government as a way of enhancing profitability of the farmers who usually operate limited farm areas.

Developing leisure farms in Taiwan has been a strategy to attract the young entrepreneurs to put up their businesses in the rural areas. And these could  be resorts offering a wide variety of attractions that include good food, do-it-yourself recreational activities and many more.

Many of the leisure farms in Taiwan are strong advocates of organic farming and environmental protection. One well known farm that has been practicing organic farming in the last 30 years is the Fairy Lake Leisure Farm in Tainan. It produces organic longan on 30 hectares and other crops like lychee, oranges and special coffee on the rest of the 52-hectare farm.

Another leisure farm that has strategically placed itself beside a national park is the Long Yun Leisure Farm in the Alishan mountain. The owner of the farm has rented the 400 hectare forest park so that its visitors can enjoy hiking through forest trails and imbibe the fresh mountain air.

The Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association has been active in the past several years in attracting foreign tourists to visit Taiwan leisure farms, particularly in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and lately in the Philippines.

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