SEARCA Center Director calls for inclusive farm tourism in 7th Philippine Farm Tourism Conference

  • By Zara Mae Estareja
  • 7 March 2024

BOHOL, Philippines—Inclusive farm tourism was the resounding message of Dr. Glenn Gregorio, Center director of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) during his keynote address at the 7th Philippine Farm Tourism Conference held on 26–28 February 2024 at the Bellevue Resort. The conference was co-presented by the Center and the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) and was hosted by the Provincial Government of Bohol, Philippines.

SEARCA Center Director calls for inclusive farm tourism in 7th Philippine Farm Tourism Conference

Themed "Farm Tourism: Consciousness for Healthy Living and New Experiences," the conference featured success stories on sustainable growth through cultivating fruit and vegetable farms, aquaculture and artisanal fisheries, and green investments in farm tourism.

Dr. Gregorio discussed farm tourism as a gateway to wellness and a vehicle to carbon neutrality.

Furthermore, he underscored its role in helping the farmers transform their mindsets and uplift their quality of life, and rallied for inclusive farm tourism.

"Inclusiveness in farm tourism makes farm tourism competitive, inclusive, and resilient," Dr. Gregorio remarked.

"Competitive—stakeholders can innovate, upgrade, and add value to products and services to match tourist demand and grow market share; inclusive—all stakeholders, including the poor and the marginalized, receive a sustainable flow of benefits; and lastly, resilient—stakeholders are capable of addressing, absorbing, and overcoming shocks in the market, policy environment, resource base, or other aspect of the system," he expounded.

Dr. Gregorio also highlighted SEARCA's initiatives on farm tourism, including the Global Farm Tourism Summit in 2018 featuring lecture-discussions and panel sessions on climate-resilient farming, women empowerment in farm tourism, and millennial farming, and the International Ecotourism Travel Mart in 2023, the first green travel mart and selling fair in the world, both of which were in partnership with ISST.

Coinciding with the conference was the 4th Lakbay Bukid Awards, held on 27 February 2024. The awards recognized Asia's foremost farm tourism pioneers, movers, developers, supporters, and legislators. The Center spearheaded the selection of the first youth Lakbay Bukid awardee, Mr. Francis Perdigon of Perdigon Farm in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Philippines. As a Generation Z farmer and a licensed agriculturist, his hands-on involvement in farm work demonstrates a genuine dedication to farming and rural development while cultivating interest and enthusiasm for agriculture among youths.

SEARCA, through its Partnerships Unit and Applied Knowledge Resources Unit, hosted an institutional exhibit at the conference showcasing its publications on food security, climate resilience, and natural resource management, as well as information materials on its programs and services.

The event was supported by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, the Philippine Department of Tourism, the Tourism Promotions Board, the Philippine Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Philippine Exporters Confederation, the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry, and the Philippine Airlines as the official carrier.