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Last week (October 4) I was tasked by my Director to attend a meeting related to farm tourism. Representatives from CAR regional offices of the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Agricultural Training Institute, Department of Agriculture and Cooperative Development Authority were oriented by the Department of Tourism on the Regional Farm Tourism Strategic Action Plan (2019-2021), I suppose this was an offshoot of the 3rd Quarter Meeting of the Socio-Economic Cluster of the Regional Development Council.
DOT OIC-Regional Director Jovita A. Ganongan and her staff provided the rationale of the meeting at the same time shared that the farm tourism concept was embodied under Republic Act Number 10816 otherwise known as “An Act Providing for the Development and Promotion of Farm Tourism in the Philippines”. It was further shared that DOT conducted visits and interviews with potential and accredited institutions and individuals.
Different agencies were requested to report on the activities being undertaken in relation to farm tourism. The Department of Trade and Industry shared on the support to SMEs and the assistance rendered to individuals and organizations especially on the aspect of business management. TESDA-CAR Acting Regional Director Manuel B. Wong shared that there agency has scholarship programs; accredit individuals and institutions based on ATI certification or accreditation. DA and ATI shared on its assistance and the accreditation processes like the learning sites and school for practical agriculture that serve as basis in TESDA accreditation. Likewise, DOLE shared on its integrated program like financial and technical assistance to individuals and groups. CDA on its part register cooperatives like agriculture cooperatives but has limited resources to support activities related to tourism.
Going over the provisions of RA 10816 that was approved on May 16, 2016, cooperatives and individuals engaged in agriculture, those with lodging services and facilities can access support from the different agencies and local government units in the promotion, development and sustainability of farm tourism. I propose that cooperatives with programs on organic agriculture, natural farming, good agriculture practices, and eco-tourism can further enhance their respective operations to serve the needs of members. Involving the Department of Tourism, CDA, ATI, DOLE, DTI, TESDA, DA, SUCs, TIEZA, DOTr, and DPWH in cooperative activities can yield more information on how to advance farm tourism as an additional endeavor for cooperative that can influence the lives of members especially in identified farm tourism sites.