The country’s emerging farm tourism sector gets another major push as a driver of inclusive economic growth at the 5th Farm Tourism Conference and Festival set at the Grand Xing Imperial Hotel in Iloilo City, Oct. 2-4.
Themed “Improving Farm Tourism through Enrichment of Local Products and Culture,” the gathering will be attended by farmer-entrepreneurs, local government executives, tourism and agricultural officers, and community stakeholders.
The event is organized by the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST), the Department of Tourism (DOT) the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), Province of Iloilo, City of Iloilo, and the Department of Agriculture.
According to ISST president and event director Mina Gabor, the Conference will focus on the unique fusion of farming and tourism that will empower local communities, provide diversified income for farmers, and encourage sustainable practices for food security.
“Farm Tourism attracts visitors and travelers to farm areas, generally for educational and recreational purposes that encourage economic activity to provide farm and community income. It is one of the country’s sunshine industries which can be developed because of the agricultural nature of the economy,” she said.
There will also a Farmers’ Market where fresh and locally-grown agricultural produce will be on sale.
Delivering the keynote addresses are guests of honor Tourism Undersecretary Silvino Tejada and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Undersecretary Eduardo Gongona. Tejada heads DoT’s newly-createdEcotourism, Farm Tourism and Faith Tourism Advocacy portfolio which puts emphasis on the new industry sectors.
Major topics in the confab include climate change and agriculture by International Institute of Rural Reconstruction country director Emilyn Monville Oro, preserving natural and cultural heritage by Lucia Catanes of the Winaca Eco-Cultural Village, opportunities in farm tourism by Damires Hills Tierra Verde manager Paolo Lorenzo Tirador, marketing and trading by Jonathan Canuto of the Ephrathah Farmers Union, product innovation by “Dragonfruit Lady” Edith Dacuycuy, and food security by Food and Agriculture Organization Philippine Representative Jose Luis Fernandez.
Other themes are urban farm technology by SIBAT deputy director Shen Maglinte, Perfect Go-To Mushroom by Perfect Mushroom founder John Regie Jimanal, and Instant Grow Kits by MNL Growkits CEO Arsenio Sumaoang.
Moreover, Pandurag Taware, India’s father of agri-tourism, and Jemy See, managing director of Taiwan’s Global Travel Management and Consultancy, will share best practices in farm tourism in their countries.
Gabor said that this year’s conference will put the spotlight on coffee, the world’s second most traded commodity. Topics include the 7 Steps in coffee planting by Philippine Coffee Board Director Dr. Andy Mojica, coffee cloning and demonstration by Albert Tabanggay of Pavia Orchard Valley, coffee roasting by La Roasteria proprietor Bodi Mijares, and coffee trade by Biscocho Haus owner Genevieve Bionat.
There will also be talks on the Sulu Royal Coffee by Kumalah Elardo and Coffee Bag by Steep Coffee Bags CEO Justin Bereber.
The three-day event will also visit successful establishments in Iloilo such as Damires Hills, Midway Hills, Ephrathah Farm Resort, Garin Farm, the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), the Regional Agro-Industrial Center and the Rice Granary Center.
The 5th Farm Tourism Conference and Festival is supported by Petron Corp., Philippine Airlines, Land Bank of the Philippines, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), Automobile Association of the Philippines, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Central Philippine University, John B. Lacson Maritime University, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.