A New Law of Farm Tourism Raises Agricultural Growth

A new law develops the local farm tourism industry and is expected to raise the income of farmers and boost the growth of the agriculture sector in the country, an official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) Philippines said over the weekend.

In an interview, Tourism Undersecretary for Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation Alma Jimenez said RA 10816, also known as the Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016, would bring a “major improvement” to the country’s agriculture sector.

“The law institutionalizes the farm tourism programs of the government. (Farmers) will have other means of raising their income and have other economic activities to ensure their livelihood,” Jimenez told The STAR.

Josephine Costales, chairman of Costales Nature Farms in Laguna, said the law would provide opportunities for farmers to augment their earnings, and at the same time, increase players in the rural tourism industry.    

“The purpose of agri-tourism is to alleviate the marginalized poor farmers. The law will also push for what President (Rodrigo Duterte) wants, that is to promote rural tourism in the country, of which agri-tourism is part of,” Costales said on the sidelines of the Philippine Tour Operators Association general membership meeting.

Costales, who is also a member of the technical working group of the implementing rules and regulations of RA10816, said the departments of tourism, trade and industry, and agriculture through the Agricultural Training Institute, have already drafted the IRR for the said law.

The rules are expected to be finalized before the end of the year.

She said the IRR would include provisions for the development and promotion of farm tourism through education and training, infrastructure support and financial access, among others.

“First of all, educate the farmers what farm tourism is, how it will affect them and how they are going to benefit from it,” Costales said, adding that her farm has been identified as a national training center for farm tourism.

She added the law would also ensure an enabling environment for farmers to get into farm tourism.

“(Under the law), the government will give them some help regarding their finances. Then those farms will be helped through (infrastructure development),” she said.

RA 10861, a consolidation of Senate Bill 3002 and House Bill 5299, was signed into law by former president Benigno Aquino III last May 16.

Farm tourism mainstreamed in 2012 starting with Costales Nature Farm in Laguna. The country now has more than 100 accredited establishments nationwide, majority of which are located in Luzon.

It is under the umbrella of nature tourism that holds around 20 to 30 percent of the overall tourism market in the country.

RA 10816 defines farm tourism as “the practice of attracting visitors and tourists to farm areas for production, educational and recreational purposes.”

During the 4th Farm Tourism Conference held in Tagaytay last month, Senator Cynthia Villar, head of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said the sunshine industry could help farm owners earn additional income in rural areas where poverty is highest, through tourism activities.

Villar also envisions the creation of farm schools in every municipality which will provide education, technology, and financial literacy to farmers in the countryside to make them competitive.

She also encouraged the use of organic technologies and sustainable agriculture in the practice of farm tourism.