Negros agri-tourism boom registered in 2009
Bacolod City (18 February) -- The year 2009 saw a boom in agri-tourism with the highest number of agri-tourists to Negros Occidental recorded so far, said Provincial Agriculturist Igmedio Tabianan.
A total of 78 agri-tours to various organic farms were coordinated by the Farmers Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in Negros Occidental, with 1,027 farmers, students, academicians, local officials, and entrepreneurs registered in the OPA-FITS logbook, he said.
The influx of agri-tourists grows year by year and it is apparent that they cut a significant slice of the pie of tourists. Agri-tourism is one industry that could rake in big revenues to the province, Tabianan said.
The figure, however, does not reflect the total number of tourists coming into the province, as some tourists go straight to the farms without seeking the assistance of OPA-FITS, said Edna Garde, OPA-FITS Manager, Public Information Officer, and Official Tour Guide.
Of the 1,027 agri-tourists recorded last year, more than half or 521 came from Panay Island in Region 6, she said.
Organic farming initiatives in the province became popular since 2005 when a milestone partnership took place. Governors Joseph Marañon and George Arnaiz of Occidental and Oriental Negros signed the Memorandum of Agreement on sustainable agriculture and rural development with the goal of making Negros Island the "Organic Food Basket of Asia".
Of the sites frequently visited, the farms of OPA-FITS Farmer-Scientist Ramon Peñalosa in Victorias City and Manapla emerged as the no. 1 agri-tourism destinations in the province, Garde said. Peñalosa has been conducting package tours since the provincial advocacy on organic farming officially started in 2006 through the holding of the 1st Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival. It was actually in 2000 when the network of organic agriculture advocates was organized, the same year when Peñalosa began ‘integrated organic farming business, she said.
As of 2009, OPA has listed 12 agri-tourism spots in the province, most of them advocating and practicing organic and probiotic agriculture and aquaculture while a few are into the manufacture of farming equipment and machinery.
Aside from Peñalosa Farms, other sites are Buro-buro Springs Vermi Farm in Talisay City; Fresh Start Organics in Silay and Sagay City; AID Foundation, Cruz Aqua Corp., RU Foundry, and Shenandoah Eco Farm in Bacolod City;
ECJ Farms and LGARRDC in La Carlota City; and Humayan Ministry, OPA Integrated Correctional and Agricultural Technology (ICAT) Center, and OISCA in Bago City. (FITS-OPA-Negros Occ/PIA/EAD) [top]