FARMERS can be tourism players too.
By taking advantage of the booming tourism industry, farmers can turn their farmlands into farm tourism sites, a top official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 said.
DA 7 Director Salvador Diputado said many farmers are now open to the idea of opening their farms to tourists.
But they want to see more farmers graduate to farm-entreprenuers.
“One of the things that we are emphasizing now in agriculture is to make it attractive to people. Farming is not a lowly occupation but it is a job that we should be proud of and that there is money in farming,” he said.
Diputado said there are several farms operating now as farm tourism sites and they are earning well.
“Our number one attraction in our region is tourism, so why not convert agriculture to agri-tourism sites?” he said.
Agriculture in the Philippines is one of the sectors struggling for a comeback, with some in the sector saying it’s a dying industry, as agricultural lands are being turned into commercial developments and farmers are growing old.
Diputado said farmers may develop their farms to suit the preferences of tourists.
“There’s organic farming where there are vegetables and fruits. Aside from that, there are integrated farms that offer trainings for guests who want to learn more about proper farming. Through these trainings, people will have fun and of course, (this service) comes with a fee,” he said.
He cited a flower farm in Dalaguete that reportedly earns P5,000 a day just in entrance fees. Another strawberry farm in the same town is also drawing a lot of visitors.
Diputado said aside from the entrance fees, farmers can earn more by selling locally made food and drinks and other products to tourists.
The farm to table concept is one of the popular interactive services offered in most farm tourism sites, where after picking vegetables guests have the option to have them cooked or prepared their own style.
Social media marketing
Diputado said venturing into this kind of business doesn’t necessarily require a big investment.
“We need to invest but those who have small farms can start small. It’s not necessary to start big as long as you can market your farm to the people,” he said.
He advised farmers to tap social media channels to market their farms.
“Tourists are your walking advertisers. If people will flock to your farms, you don’t need to advertise anymore because through word of mouth, it is bound to attract people. Let’s use our initiative and creativity so we can make big out of a small undertaking,” he said.