The trends of eating healthy and going back to nature have helped farm tourism grow at a rapid pace in the country.
As described by Tourism Assistant Secretary Maria Rica Bueno, “Farm tourism has gone big in the country. It is now at the forefront of tourism products in the Philippines.”
Farm tourism in the country was helped immensely by the passage in 2016 of Republic Act No. 10816 or known as “The Farm Tourism Development Act,” an act providing for the development and promotion of farm tourism in the Philippines. The law recognizes the importance of agriculture in making available food and other products that not only are necessary to sustain and enhance human life but also provide livelihood to a major portion of the population.
To date, there are 222 farm tourism sites in the country accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT). And the DOT is encouraging more successful and thriving farms to go into farm tourism.
According to Bueno, the “Farm Tourism Development Act” has provided the DOT the leeway to organize farm tourism sites through accreditation, training, and introduction of guidelines.
Farm tourism has two categories: Farm Stays and Day Farms.
Farm Stays are farm tourism sites that feature accommodation for tourists who want to stay overnight in the farm. While Day Farms are farms that are only open for a day for short tours only.
For the farm to become a tourism site, it must produce the following—it could be a farm that produces crops or it could just be a farm focused on animal livestock or aquaculture.
Farm tourist sites should also be accessible through local transportation and should have reception and information operations.
“When we are already accepting guests, it is expected of us to at least have eight-hour reception operations for a day farm tourism site. For a farm stay, a 12-hour reception,” said Bueno.
Farm tourism sites should also have facilities, parking, and services like walking trails, agri-educational tours, camping—and most importantly—a dining facility or a restaurant. There should also be trained farm guides and security staff.
For farm stays, the rooms should have amenities, such as toiletries.
Farm tourism sites should also offer farm tourism activities—from direct selling of farm products to various educational activities and experiences in the farm as entertainment.
Agricultural certification may also be needed. “We know that you want to showcase farm tourism sites that are showcasing good agricultural practices, or good animal husbandry practice, good aquaculture practice, participatory guarantee system certification, or even a third party organic certification, but just any of this certification would be okay.”
It also helps that farm tourism sites promote local heritage dishes.
Some of the successful farm tourism sites in the country include the following: Kahariam Farm in Lipa, Batangas; Forest Wood Garden in San Pablo City, Laguna; Ato Belen’s Farm in San Pablo City; Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna; Flor’s Garden & Nature Haven Inc. in Antipolo City, Rizal; Teofely Nature Farms in Silang, Cavite; Domingo Permafarms in Antipolo City; Chad’s Nature Farm in Mataas na Kahoy, Batangas; Nurture Farmacy in Amadeo, Cavite; Terra Verde Ecofarm in Maragondon, Cavite; Moca Family Farm in Padre Garcia, Batangas; and Graco Farms in Pila, Laguna.