THE PeacePond Eco Tourism Events and Learning Center in Binalbagan town has received the first agri-tourism site accreditation from the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Western Visayas specifically for southern Negros circuit.
PeacePond founders Antonio Jesus and Checcs Orbida received the certificate of accreditation from DOT- Western Visayas officials led by Regional Administrative Officer Artemio Ticar, also the designated tourism area development head for Negros Occidental, on Wednesday, March 6.
Forming part of eight accredited farm-tourism sites in the province, PeacePond is the only DOT-accredited establishment in Binalbagan so far.
Cristine Mansinares, provincial supervising tourism operations officer, said that PeacePond has passed the standards set by the DOT.
These include fire safety, with permits, and the area is conducive and safe for tourists, among others.
Mansinares said the newly-accredited farm-tourism site is also conducting agriculture-related activities like organic and natural farming, among others, as well as lectures on recycling and other environmental protection and conservation practices.
“It has a positive impact on our end. It would mean that more are interested to undergo the DOT-accreditation process,” she added.
Also earlier this week, DOT-Western Visayas issued the accreditation for Melba's Farm in Talisay City under the metro north Negros tourism circuit.
Other existing accredited farm-tourism sites in the province are Peñalosa Farms in Victorias City and Rapha Valley in Salvador Benedicto for north Negros; Twenty-Six Herb Garden, May's Organic Garden and FreshStart Organic Farm in Bacolod City also for metro north Negros; and Bee Well Farmstead in Bago City under the south central circuit.
Mansinares said farm-tourism sites will encourage especially the Negrense youth to go into farming.
“Our target is to have more accredited farm-tourism sites as it will help in our efforts to promote Negros Occidental as a sustainable destination,” she added.
PeacePond runs a five-hectare organic farm and fish production area in Barangay Enclaro.
It also hosts the Plastic Bottle Learning Center and Eco Seed Factory.
These facilities are mainly aimed at promoting health, education, information dissemination, and food security, especially among small farmer-families.
Other community development initiatives of the association include advocacies on solid waste management, organic farming and aquaculture, vermiculture, educational scholarships, rural, educational and cultural outreach programs, livelihood, and women and children empowerment.
It is also engaged in the production of coco sugar and virgin coconut oil utilizing coconut trees grown in its farm.
The endeavor has been helping farmer-members as an added livelihood opportunity for them.
Mrs. Orbida, vice president of PeacePond Farmers Association, said for the past few years, the association and its farmer-members have been working with government agencies.
Orbida said this is to prove that public-private partnerships can work in the delivery of services to communities.
“The DOT-accreditation will be integral in PeacePond's thrust to educate and inform small and marginal farmers about zero-carbon footprint agricultural systems and other innovations which shall guide them in taking care of the earth we live in,” she said.
The PFA official added that “it also gives pride to our farmers and proves that with the Filipino bayanihan spirit even a small farmers' association can make things happen.”