The first Global Farm Tourism Summit was held last July in Tagaytay, with the theme “Managing Climate Risks Through Sustainable Farm Tourism.”
Sustainable Practices and Opportunities in Farm Tourism
Cainta Vice Mayor Pia Schuck-Velasco, spoke about the youth-led urban farming initiatives in her municipality in a presentation titled “Farming is sexy: Millennial Farmers.”
Mayor Maria Dolores Baya of Dimataling, Zamboanga del Sur, gave an inspiring talk on “Women Empowerment in Farm Tourism,” drawing from the experiences of the Women Empowerment Movement—Rural Improvement Club’s (WEM-RIC) activities in her municipality. “Most people say farmers are poor,” the Mayor said. “I believe poverty is not a hindrance.”
Raymund Aaron, Banana Chief of Villa Socorro Agri-Eco Villages gave a rousing talk on “Learn New Sustainable Practices” with his company’s best practices in entrepreneurial farming as backdrop. “The business of doing good is good business,” he said.
Climate-Smart Farm Tourism
Dindo Campilan, Director for Asia for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) offered a scientific approach to planning for climate-smart farm tourism. “You can’t plan for a farm or farm tourism in isolation,” he advised, “You have to understand land and food systems first.” He offered farm tourism as “part of a suite of thematic tour designs” with the goal of “stewardship of global heritage for agrobiodiversity.”
Dr. Edna Samar spoke about “Climate Resistant Crops and Sustainable Soil Management.”
Dr. Roberto Puentespina, Jr., veterinarian and co-owner of Puentespina Farm, engaged the crowd with his talk on “Do-It-Yourself Promotion of Farm Tourism.” He was interviewed by Josephine Costales of Costales Nature Farms, the first government accredited Farm Tourism site in the country. “If our family could do it, then I’m sure you could, too,” Dr. Puentespina said.
Unique Farm Stay Experiences
Dr. Alberto Jo, owner of Rapha Valley spoke about his farm’s best practices, which focused on soil health. He also shared his secret to healthy living, which included a diet filled with organic food and the use of food as medicine.
Dr. Vivencio “Choy” Mamaril, Director IV of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards discussed “local organic farming standards and accreditation and internationally accepted processes.” As of now, these standards (or rather, the fees they entail) are not yet readily accessible to the common farmer, and it was good that the the audience and speaker got to discuss potential ways to make accreditation more accessible.
H.E. Jesus Domingo, Ambassador to New Zealand, shared the Kiwi way of using farm experiences to foster goodwill (as well as a fun, educational time) in his talk, “New Zealand Farm Tourism and Farm Tourism Diplomacy.” He also stated that there are many Pinoys residing in New Zealand, and that there currently are many jobs and opportunities in the agricultural sector that are still up for grabs.
Tan Thi Su, owner of Sapa O’Chau in Vietnam, spoke about “Vietnam’s Best Practices.” She used her experiences growing up on the streets, teaching herself English with the help of friendly tourists, and setting aside enough money to open a small tour company as an example. Today, Sapa O’Chau is a modest hostel and is the first one owned by a person of indigenous origin.
Rose Libongco, President of Movement of Incentive Travel Executives and Cathy Turvill, President of Nurture Wellness Village, reported on Philippines’ Best Practices in the farm tourism industry. Ms. Libongco stressed the importance of social media in promoting a farm destination and Ms. Turvill.
Empowering Local Government Units for Farm Tourism
Hon. Manuel Alameda, Sr., Vice Governor of the Province of Surigao del Sur and longtime proponent of organic agriculture, spoke about the farm tourism endeavors in his province, which includes declaring June 19 Araw ng mga Mag-uuma at Mangingisda and staging an annual Farmers and Fisherfolks forum on that date.
Daloumy Doyangpaseuth spoke about “Steps Toward Successful Agritourism,” using Phutawen, her extremely successful farm tourism business that started from an organic vegetable farm in her province of Oudomxay in Lao PDR.
Farm Tourism Country Models
Dr. Lock-hwan Jo, Senior Agricultural Researcher from the National Institute of Agricultural Science in South Korea gave a report on the Korean government’s endeavors to boost the country’s rural tourism, which kicked into gear in 2002. Its two main projects are the Rural Traditional Theme Village and the Green Rural Experience Village, which included promoting food tourism and partnering with government agencies to drive traffic to the farms via foreign and domestic tourism and school field trips. An interesting part of the presentation is how, aside from the rise in employment and income, there was also a rise in what was termed “self-pride.” It is an often overlooked yet important part of any worker’s success quotient. The presentation also highlighted the importance of using statistics in helping gauge a project’s success.
Daisuke Fuji, Representative Director and President of Ohtawara Tourism Co., Ltd., introduced Japan Green Tourism, using his town Ohtawara, located in the Tochigi Prefecture. He highlighted the importance of intention in creating a green tourism site. The Ohtawara local government, for example, created over 120 experience-based attractions to complement the overall farm village experience.
Vernie Morales, Director IV, CESO of the Department of Tourism for Region IV-A spoke about the Farm Tourism Country Model in the Philippines, which hopes to be fully in effect by 2040. She walked the audience through pertinent laws such as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 and the Farm Tourism Act of 2016, and outlined the path a farm needs to take toward accreditation as a farm tourism site.
IIRR: Seeing Principles in Practice
The Summit ended with a trip to the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), a US-based organization which works to eradicate poverty in eight countries through integrated and holistic programs. The Cavite farm showcased different organic farming and animal husbandry techniques that could be used as inspiration for farm tourism initiatives, such as an edible garden where guests can pick and nibble as they go on tour.
The first Global Farm Tourism Summit highlighted not just the importance of prioritizing community and agriculture as a viable form of tourism, but also how strategy, creativity, and business sense is essential in ensuring that the enterprise remains sustainably profitable for all involved.