The Department of Tourism (DOT) Region VI in partnership with Panay Organic Producers Association (POPA) conducted a Regional Strategic Farm Tourism Action Planning Workshop on January 10-11, 2018 at Days Hotel, General Luna Street, Iloilo City.

This two-day workshop is pursuant to the implementation of the Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016 (RA 10816) which recognizes that tourism coupled with agriculture extension services, can disseminate the value of agriculture in the economic and cultural development of the country. One of the primary objectives of the workshop is to craft a Regional Strategic Action Plan for Farm Tourism involving existing and emerging farm sites in the region.

A total of sixty-one (61) participants gathered from different farms and government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and Provincial Tourism Officers from the six provinces in Western Visayas. The workshop was facilitated and managed by former Department of Agriculture VI Director turned consultant, Mr. Larry P. Nacionales.

According to Mr. Buen Mondejar, President of POPA and a farm owner, “In my opinion, so far, this has been one of the best farm-related workshops that was ever organized in our region because of the response and high turn-out of participants. The visibility and immense support of both the farm owners and LGUs in discussions enabled us to achieve workshop objectives.” 

DOT Regional Director, Atty. Helen J. Catalbas urged the local tourism players to work together with the different government agencies especially the DOT to achieve our vision of becoming a sustainable tourism-driven region by 2022.  Aside from that, it was suggested that they join an existing or organize a new farmer/ fisheries association and connect with the proper panelists on how to work together in increasing their farm production, suitability of activities as well as the quality and ensure sustainability of tourism products they are offering for the benefit of the local farmers and future tourists.

Currently, a total of 15 DOT-Accredited Agri-Tourism Sites in Western Visayas are deemed compliant and are endorsed by the regional office to the various WV tourist markets. DOT believes the numbers will increase before the month ends since most of the existing farm owners are currently processing their renewal and the number of new applicants are also increasing.

When asked about why Department of Tourism Region VI is eager in spearheading this workshop, “As we are targeting agri-tourism, we need to produce more quality food and crops which will be for export only after we have fed everyone (locals & tourists) in our region first. Our farmers will have this key role and we are making sure that we are with them in accomplishing this every step of the way”, Atty. Catalbas firmly responded. (JLT)