The Davao Farm Tourism Association is asking Landbank of the Philippines to offer loan program for farm tourism which is seen to boost agricultural trends and provide additional income for farmers.
Citing that farm tourism will help farmers market their local products, Davao Farm Tourism Association President Val Turtur said the challenge for farmers is funding. Faced with financial constraint, farm tourism is progressing sluggardly in the region. Turtur cited that establishing farm tourism sites entail costs especially to the farmers.
“I asked the Landbank if they can offer a package because now there is no program for loan window for farm tourism. They (bank) say that they are still studying it (farm tourism) kasi it is still new to them,” Turtur said.
Although farm tourism started to take off slowly this year, there are factors seen to stall its successful implementation. He cited that most of the accredited farm tourism sites in the region lack parking space and reception area. He also said most of the farms accredited are owned by small farmers who cannot afford to allocate areas just for the parking.
“Ang akoa nakita na isa sa mga constraints is the parking area. For the parking area it requires maybe 200 square meters space and that space for small farms is sayang na because they can plant more vegetables in that space. As of now daghan na atong na accredit na mga farms for farm tourism and mostly those well-established farm resorts. For now if we do not provide parking area most likely the visitors will park on the road, which can cause traffic. We already have visitors but if you are a visitor your number one concern is the parking area,” he said.
Another thing is the reception area and according to Turtur most of the farmers are hesitant to provide this because it entails costs for the construction of the said area. He said they are planning to discuss this with the Department of Tourism (DOT) for a minimal reception area not necessarily a full building requirement.
“Just similar to a makeshift na masilungan because the requirement is before you go to the farm you have to pass through the reception area for the orientation for the visitors to know the dos and don’ts,” he said.
Aside from the parking and reception areas, another thing is the hospitality aspect on the side of the farmers. Turtur, who is also the president of the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao (CIDAMI) said farmers should be taught how to entertain tourists as farm tourism involves both agriculture and entertaining guests.
Turtur said they will be working with DOT 11 on trainings of farmers with emphasis on hospitality.
“Farmers are shy especially if our visitors are from Manila or foreigners. Dapat may kasamang training on hospitality aspect. Also food preparation because visitors and tourists will also experience the food prepared by our local farmers. Medyo daghan pa ta himoonon that is why so far medyo naga-accredit pa lang. There are still a lot of things to do maong dili ka take off kay its really more on financial constraint,” he said.