The Philippines has all it takes to be the leading country as far as farm tourism is concerned, former Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary and International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) Chairman Dr. Mina T. Gabor said.
ISST looks into welcoming over a thousand
delegates in the conference compared to 2017’s 500 participants, which consists
of farmers and cooperatives, farm tourism operators, landowners, government
officers, entrepreneurs and sustainable agriculture enthusiasts.
With this global summit, Gabor eyes to anchor
farm tourism in the Philippines as globally competitive and future-ready with
discussions on adaptation of agriculture sector in climate change, aquaculture,
urban farming and product-focused discussions.
With the theme “Building Community Relationship
for Sustainable Development through Farm Tourism,” the conference aims to learn
and the best practices done by experts in farm tourism industry, as well
as fighting for food security.
She added that the future of farming is bright
with their creativity and new ideas that are disrupting current trends.
“They’re bringing in new innovations, and that’s what’s making it exciting.
That’s why I believe we can be the next farm capital in Asia.”
One of the
current trends ISST is looking into is urban farming in partnership with
various local government agencies in Metro Manila, starting with Parañaque
City. As a way of community-building, urban farming paves the way for people to
make use of vacant lots as small farms.
Recently, ISST tied up with Bokashi Pinoy, a
start-up company introducing bokashi-making among livelihoods.
Bokashi is a way of turning food wastes, such
as meat and dairy, into a soil amendment through fermentation. It serves as a
soil-builder and a source of nutrients for plants.
ISST believes that through this, kitchen
wastes in urban areas can be addressed. It can also be another source of livelihood
for those who want to sell their own bokashi.
While DOT focuses on farm tourism, Gabor acknowledges the challenges that come
with it, most especially climate change. “When there is climate change, the
first that will be affected will be the farm,” she said. “But it is also the
farm which can mitigate it.”
For one, she considers as a big challenge is
water, what with the coming El Niño season. She said, “We are working closely
now with a team of climate specialist. We might bring in this subject so that
we can prepare and educate our farmers on interventions for water shortage.”
Gabor considers the soil another challenge in urban farming. She said it
is imperative that farmers are well educated on the importance of proper
nourishment for their soil to yield best results for their produce.
Gabor sees that infrastructure should be considered to boost farm
tourism in the country. She hopes that
with the support of the government, roads leading to farms even in remote areas
can be accessed easily, bringing in more potentials tourists for the area.
With the pressure that comes with start-up farms, some
farm tourism sites come with premature opening to the public. Noting that some
farms which are focused more on their landscapes, looking into tourists’
welfare, such as having PWD-friendly pathways, and comfortable comfort rooms
are not yet a priority. Gabor said that
this includes continues training for local guides. For their part, ISST is
continuously offers lectures, such as farm guiding, marketing and financing,
eco guiding and tourism master planning for farm tourism enthusiasts.