TURNING coffee farms into a tourism destination is another potential source of income for struggling coffee farmers, a coffee expert said.
Lloyd Eric Lim encouraged Filipino coffee growers to inject tourism concepts in their farms so they could earn more aside from selling their coffee beans to commercial institutions.
“Inviting tourists who are coffee enthusiasts to coffee farms is another platform for coffee appreciation. Initiatives, like this, will also help promote our homegrown coffee industry because this would spark interests among coffee lovers, especially the young ones, to learn more about the country as a coffee nation and the history and culture behind our own coffee sector,” said Lim.
He believes this concept is viable in the country, especially that ecotourism-based activities are becoming in demand for both local and foreign tourists and that adding tourism facilities to an existing coffee plant could address income issues of the farmers.
“At the coffee farm, we can educate our guests about farming, harvesting, roasting and brewing. They will have a real experience about coffee,” he said.
In need of a push
Lim earlier noted the country has the potential to grow its coffee industry. However, it needs a push in terms of educating the market and helping coffee farmers to become more productive.
“There is a market. But we need to increase education to help facilitate the expansion of local coffee shops in the country (which is now in tight competition with the foreign brands) and eventually help coffee entrepreneurs to venture into real specialty coffees,” said Lim, who is one of the only four coffee certified connoisseurs in the Philippines.
According to the Department of Agriculture the Philippines is among the few countries in the world that can grow coffee and cacao, with its geographical position around the equator.
The Philippines only produces 25,000 metric tons of coffee yearly.
The Senate and the House of Representatives recently passed on third reading and final reading the bill on Farm Tourism or Senate Bill 3002 or “An Act Providing for the Development and Promotion of Farm Tourism in the Philippines and for Other Purposes.”
Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairwoman of the Senate agriculture and food committee and the principal author of the bill, suggested the publication of a book showcasing the farm tourism destinations by provinces and also information materials for farmers to teach them the benefits of farm tourism.
Among the salient features of the bill are the formulation of a Farm Tourism Strategic Action Plan consistent with the National Tourism Development Plan. The bill also hopes to create the Farm Tourism Development Board composed of private sector/industry stakeholders.