Issue of April 8, 2018

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Dad backs regular programs for farm tourism dev’t in LT
by Ofelia C. Empian

The capital town of Benguet is deliberating on the institutionalization of programs for the development of its farm tourism.

Councilor Roderick Awingan, proponent of the measure, said the aim of the proposed Farm Tourism Ordinance is to develop a program for sustainable agriculture in the municipality.

“La Trinidad revolves around farm tourism so let’s concentrate on it and make it sustainable,” said Awingan, chairman of the committee on tourism.

Under the proposed ordinance, programs are lined up to enhance farm tourism including accreditation assistance provided by the municipality, capability building for farm tourism stakeholders, farm tourism circuit promotions, and farm tourism forum, among others.

The programs will be made possible through the creation of the La Trinidad Farm Tourism Development and Promotions Board that will be responsible for the formulation, advocacy, coordination, and overseeing the programs and activities to be crafted.

The board will be led by the municipal tourism officer as chairman, municipal agriculturist as vice-chair and with members from the sangguniang bayan chair of the committee on tourism and committee on agriculture as well as representatives from the academe, farm tourism organization, farmers organization and other stakeholders from the tourism industry.

The proposal, which is now on second reading, also states that all farm tourism stakeholders shall be organized and accredited by the sangguniang bayan as basis for its membership in the La Trinidad Farm Tourism Development and Promotions Board.

During a recent public consultation, stakeholders from the agriculture and tourism industry, government and civil society groups shared their inputs for the improvement of the proposed measure.

Jeffrey Laruan of the Lily of the Valley Farms in Barangay Wangal, La Trinidad, a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority-accredited learning site on organic agriculture, said there needs to be a mainstreaming and reiteration of government programs on good agricultural practices (GAP) and organic agriculture in the town.

Laruan said the municipality, through the farm tourism ordinance, needs to craft policies integrating the GAP and organic farming in the development of farm tourism sites.

Municipal Tourism Officer Valred Olsim said once the ordinance is approved,  the farm tourism board will plan the programs, projects and activities for the industry.

“Priority projects will be infrastructure, drainage, among others,” he said.

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