Issue of February 3, 2019

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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DOT crafts plan to boost farm tourism in the Cordillera
by Pamela Mariz Geminiano / PNA

The Department of Tourism-Cordillera is collecting inputs from farmers to complete its strategic farm tourism development plan and assure a sustainable program for this concept.

“The strategic farm tourism development plan will serve as a guide and will address the issues of our farmers on how to sustain their activity and economic venture,” said Jovita Ganongan, officer-in-charge of DOT-Cordillera.

She said farm tourism is a new concept, which they see as a viable economic activity, in addition to farming.

Farm tourism is the practice of attracting visitors and tourists to farm areas for a fun experiential learning on production and harvest. It involves any agricultural or fishery-based operation or activity that brings to a farm the visitors, tourists, farmers, and fisherfolk together to share knowledge. It is also a venue for outdoor recreation and accessible family outings.

She said some of those who started to go into farm tourism are facing challenges.

Cordillera farms and farmers have unique issues affected by several factors relating to location, topography, and the practice. The farm tourism development plan is expected to address the issues and challenges of the farmers.

“The crafting of this plan will address what is lacking, and what needs to be improved,” she said.

She added that during the strategic action planning workshop conducted by the DOT, it was found that the lack of capital and technical knowledge on marketing strategies are among the issues faced by farmers.

These issues are being addressed through the conduct of training to equip stakeholders with the appropriate knowledge and skills to make their farm tourism an income generating activity.

Ganongan said the DOT is pushing for farm tourism to allow more benefits to the farmers – gain higher income, free education for themselves and their families, and ultimately help ensure food security for the country.

As a way of helping the small farmers who have started to go into farm tourism, she said they have been doing bench marking and bringing the owners to existing farm tourism destinations to observe.

“We will also provide capacity building training for them, not only to the farmers but also to their employees like how to tour and entertain guests, have customer service and housekeeping skills,” she said.

Ganongan said that while the concept is relatively new, they have already accredited two farm tourism sites, which were found compliant to the standards – Cosmic Farm in Benguet and the Layug Farm in Mountain Province.

She said that currently, they are eyeing 10 additional farm tourism sites in the region for accreditation.

The official said they will be launching tourism accreditation campaigns in the region on a quarterly basis to educate aspiring farm tourism owners on the importance of complying with the standards and the rules.

“If they are accredited, we can recommend their area as a tourist destination,” she said.

The DOT-Cordillera has acquainted highland farmers with the concept of farm tourism, which is described “fun farm tourism.”

She said “fun farm tourism is an activity that allows tourists to have an experiential activity on a farm, allowing them to learn from the orientation and with the economic returns, encourages farmers to venture into an activity of more than just producing agricultural products, but also sharing the experience of production.”

Ganongan said that they are planning to link flower gardens in Atok, Benguet with vegetable farms in other towns to provide a better tourism experience for the tourists, which will become part of the itinerary for visitors coming to the region.

“It’s a matter of strategies to market what we have in the Cordillera. We are working with the different tour operators since we are planning to link some of the tourism sites such as the flower garden in Atok with the farm sites that we have in Benguet and Mountain Province,” she said.

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