By Rita dela Cruz, DA StratComms
The Department of Agriculture (DA) continues to strengthen its ties with the Department of Tourism (DOT) to support the recovery of both the agriculture and tourism sectors, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and onto the “new normal.”
“The DA will vigorously promote farm tourism, as it catalyzes and sustains the inclusive development of farming and fishing communities, and provides much-needed employment and livelihood to other ruralfolk, women, and youth in agri-tourism sites,” said Agriculture Secretary Dar.
“Hence, we will continue to be a strong partner of the DOT,” the DA chief added, during the first meeting of the Farm Tourism Development Board, chaired by DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat, on August 10, 2020.
“More local residents are now interested in farm tourism, and so this will be a good bounce-back strategy for us at the DOT and DA. We need to work together especially now with the pandemic under the new normal,” said Secretary Puyat, who served for 12 years as DA undersecretary for special concerns before assuming the DOT post.
Alongside the passing of a farm tourism investment plan, secretary Dar mentioned specific areas in which the DA can complement the DOT in pursuing the farm tourism program.
“We need to network the farm tourism sites all over the country, and link them directly to markets and restaurants so they can sell their fresh, farm produce at better prices. One initiative we have right now is with Resto.ph that committed to buy directly from our farmers,” Dar said.
Further, he added that there is a need to showcase farm tourism in the regions the best way possible.
“Thus, we will upgrade the DA-Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers (RIARCs) by providing them additional funds so they can refurbish and modernize their facilities, beautify their grounds and demonstration plots, and more importantly showcase the best technologies to farmers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, students, and tourists,” he added.
Also, it will be useful to have an updated list of accredited farm tourism organizations, the DA chief said.
“We are now strengthening our collaboration with the departments of science and technology (DOST) and trade and industry (DTI) to support our food processing intervention. This is something that we are also championing, to allow farm tourism operators to cluster themselves and link up with a particular area for the processing of products and help them with value-adding,” said DA Undersecretary Cheryl Natividad-Caballero, who joined the virtual meeting, on behalf of Secretary Dar.
She said the DA will continue to provide farmers and fishers needed assistance to enable them to process and package their farm and fishery products, and sell these profitably to a discriminating tourism market.