Sen. Cynthia Villar left for Taiwan on Monday to study and gather data regarding the country’s agri-tourism best practices that will be used on a bill promoting farm tourism in the country.
Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, was tasked to lead a study tour of the best agri-tourism sites in Taiwan from June 22 to 25.
“Agriculture-tourism can be considered as the ‘sunshine industry’ in the agriculture sector. We believe in its potential to augment the income of our people in agriculture, that’s why we are working on this bill that will allow our farmers and fisherfolk to seize this opportunity,” Villar said.
Villar will visit the Golden Town Leisure Farm Zone, Young Lake Resort, Miel High Cafe and Leisure Farm, Da-hu Strawberry Winery, Flying Cow Ranch, Dream Works of the Mei, Taomi Eco-Village, Paper Dome, and Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Corporation.
Before the study tour, Villar will also meet with Master Cheng Yen, regarded as the “Mother Teresa of Asia” who founded the international humanitarian organization Tzu Chi Foundation.
Villar sought this opportunity to personally thank the Buddhist nun for the donation of a rescue boat to Las Pinas Red Cross.
Villar’s committee already held a committee hearing and a meeting of the technical working group on the bills filed in the Senate on the matter, including the one she authored — Senate Bill No. 2766 or the Farm Tourism Act of 2015.
The Nacionalista Party senator said she intends to submit the committee report on the bill when session resumes in July.
Last week, Villar was in Negros Occidental to gather inputs on the attractions and management of farm tourism sites there. Among the farms she visited were Fresh Start Organics, May’s Organic Garden and Restaurant, and Rapha Valley.
She also turned over a composting equipment to Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella.
“Farm tourism can also help solve the problem of urban migration, which is placing stress on public services in urban areas. If there will be development in rural areas, we will avoid urban migration. Farm tourism would contribute to rural development,” she said.
At present, the Philippines has a total of 32 agri-tourism sites, including 27 protected areas consisting of strawberry and organic vegetable farms in Benguet as well as pineapple and coffee plantations in Bukidnon.
The pending bills in the Senate seek to specify the programs that must be done to promote and support farm tourism as well as create the Philippine Farm Tourism Industry Development Coordinating Council.
The bills also seek to ensure that policies and programs of government, including local government units, state universities and colleges and schools, and the activities of the private sector, are harmonized towards the development and promotion of farm tourism.