National convergent agri-tourism program launched in Ilocos » Manila Bulletin News

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By Freddie Lazaro

A national convergent program for strengthening the institutionalization of agri-tourism industry was launched last week during the 2017  National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development Summit held at the Vigan Convention Center.

Senator Cynthia Villar graced the launch of the program with the presence of Rep. Deogracias Victor B. Savellano (1st District, Ilocos Sur); Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis V. Singson, the president of League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP); and Vigan City Mayor Juan Carlo S. Medina, the chairperson of the Region 1 Development Council (RDC).

Also present during the event were Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, Tourism Undersecretary Silvino Q. Tejada, Agriculture Undersecretary Evelyn Lavina, ranking officials and employees from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), local officials  and stakeholders all over the country.

Dubbed as the “Institutionalization of District-Wide Agro-Industrialization, Innovation and Tourism (IDAIT) Convergence Site,” the convergent program was conceptualized by Rep. DV Savellano to promote an agri-tourism industry in the country to further solve the problems on hunger and poverty; and to sustain food security.

The convergent initiative is in line with Republic Act 10816 otherwise known as the Farm Tourism Development Act authored by Villar.

Rice farming / Photo courtesy of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol via Facebook / Manila Bulletin

“The goal of the National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development (NCI-SRD) of the departments of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Environment and Natural Resources, and Interior and Local Government, is to reduce poverty and ensure sustainable countryside development through farming and fishing among others in which this is aligned with my own goals and advocacies; and I am confident that the collaboration of the four government departments will create a positive impact on the lives of many Filipinos in the countryside,” said Villar.

She cited that the key essence of the Farm Tourism Development Law is for the government to recognize that tourism, coupled with agriculture extension services, could disseminate the value of agriculture in the economic and cultural development of the country, serve as a catalyst for the development of agriculture and fishery communities, and provide additional income for farmers, farm workers, and fisherfolk.

“The important provision of Farm Tourism Development Law is the encouragement of the Departments of Tourism and Agriculture to establish at least one farm tourism camp or site in every province in the country,” said Villar.

“This initiative has great help for the rural development because almost all farm tourism sites are located in the rural areas; and I’m aiming for not only one tourist farm/farm school in every province but in every town in the Philippines should teach the farmers and fisherfolk to overcome the barriers to profitability and competitiveness,” she added.

According to Villar, it is very necessary to give support to the small farmers and family farms in rural areas because there would be a time when we would not source our foods from corporate farms but we source it from small farmers.

“Thus, I’m appealing to our farming families not stop tilling the soil as there would be a time when we lack food to eat,” she added.

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