Farm tourism: the future?
NEWLY APPOINTED Tourism Secretary Berna RomuloPuyat has advocated farm tourism as a flagship strategy. It is a sound direction.
In a related development, Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chair of the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee, led the launching of a farm tourism initiative in October 2017. Her counterpart in the House is Congresswoman Sharon Garin. Both strongly support farm tourism as a profitable business proposition to farmers and farm owners.
Villar claims that the Tourism Law seeks to promote environmentfriendly, efficient and sustainable farm practices. She acknowledged that increasing food production and farm productivity alone cannot move farmers out of poverty. She wants capacity-building to turn small farmers into agri-business entrepreneurs.
What are the typical farm tourism destinations in the ASEAN neighborhood? This article will discuss examples from Malaysia and the Philippines.
1. Dairy farm. A popular farm tourism destination in Malaysia is Desa Dairy Farm, which is located at the foot of Mount Kinabalu in Kundasang, Sabah. It is dubbed as “Little New Zealand” for its green landscape and cool breeze. The cattle breed of Holstein Friesian is imported from New Zealand. Yoghurts, milk, cows, sheep, and magnificent farmland are among the attraction. See more on Malaysia farm tourism at https://www.tripzilla.com/ farms-to-visit-malaysia/72175 (Chew 2017).
Laguna and Batangas. There are dairy farms in Laguna and Batangas that can be converted into farm tourism destinations. One example is King Ranch Dairy Farm in Rosario town managed by King Carlos.
2. Tropical fruit farms. Penang Island hosts a Tropical Fruit Farm, which is a popular tourist site with a wide range of exotic and rare fruits. The farm orchard, developed in 1993, boasts of around 250 different species of fruits from different parts of the world.
Sarian Exotic Fruit Trees farm is in Teresa, Rizal, the next town to Antipolo City and 25-km from Ortigas Center. Diverse exotic varieties can be seen: macopa, latexless jackfruit, longkong, Malaysian hybrid durian, marang, seedless atis, pomegranate, super avocado, guava, peach mango, calamansi, lemon, pomelo, Barbados cherry, and more; even black pepper from India and BR 25 cacao.
3. Buffalo/Carabao Farms. In the Buffalo Park in Langkawi Island, north of Penang, one can become a farmer for a day and get to enjoy tender and juicy buffalo meat. This is also an ideal place to buy yoghurt ice cream, cheese, and souvenirs.
The Philippine Carabao Center in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija is a showcase of farm tourism in the country, according to Senator Villar. It has its own processing plant for carabao milk and an outlet where processed products from farm cooperatives can be bought.
4. Farm resorts. In Davao City, the Malagos Farm Resort provides a different experience from cacao farm to chocolate making. It is a one-hour drive from the city center.
Nearby is the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC), an 8.4hectare area located at the foothills of Mt. Apo. PEC operates as a conservation breeding facility for the critically endangered Philippine Eagle and other birds of prey. There are currently 7 Philippine Eagles in exhibit
Dairy buffaloes at the Philippine Carabao Center.