ORIENTAL MINDORO, MiMaRoPa—Local farmers took the opportunity to prove that it is ‘more fun in Philippine farms’ as they showcased their technologies, fresh produce, and featured attractions during a three-day learning journey dubbed as the ‘Juanderful Farm Tours’.
Some 19 Filipino-American and local guests were part of the activity and got the full experience of the Filipino farmers’ warm hospitality and hardworking nature. The sites visited were located in different towns in Oriental Mindoro, namely, Victoria Nature Park and Provincial Demo Farm in Victoria; Gabutero Organic Farm and 4H Learning Camp in Bongabong; and Infinity Farm and Resort in Baco.
Nelson Gabutero of Gabutero Organic Farm and 4H Learning Camp shared some of his organic farming practices including the recommended use of 30 bags of organic fertilizer per hectare.
“Biological organic fertilizer is widely used in fields as it has good effects especially in terms of soil improvement,” he said as he gave the visitors a tour in the farm and a chance to interact with the free-range pigs and rabbits.
In Victoria Nature Park, they enjoyed fresh buko (coconut) juice and local fruits such as marang and kamote (sweet potato). They also stopped by its organic contour garden of herbs and vegetables, its free-range poultry area, and the spot overlooking Naujan Lake.
Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) MiMaRoPa Regional Training Center Director Pat Andrew Barrientos shared the beginnings of the farm, which is an accredited Learning Site of the Institute. According to him, the farm is being developed as an agro-tourism site, in partnership with Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corp. (APFC), the shipping company that operates FastCat; By The Sea Hotels, Inc.; and ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc.
Aside from these farms, the group also stopped by the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Capitol in Calapan and ATI MiMaRoPa’s office and organic techno-demo farm in Naujan.
The activity served as an extended trip for some of the Filipino-American tourists who were part of the 12th Ambassadors’ Tour, led by Philippine Ambassador to the United States of America (USA), Jose Manuel Romualdez. The Tour is a flagship project of all Philippine Foreign Service Posts in the USA, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Tourism.
Prior to the farm tour, a luncheon event on farm tourism was held for around 120 tourists, local and international agency officials, and members of the media. This was spearheaded by Agriculture Attache to the United States and the Americas, Josyline Javelosa.
Senator Cynthia Villar graced the event and talked about the prospects in farm tourism, sharing her effort to promote the transformation of farms into farm schools.
ATI Officer-in-Charge Director Luz Taposok also spoke at the event. She discussed the role of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and ATI in the implementation of the Farm Tourism Development Act including its efforts to support farms as tourism and technology demonstration sites.
Barrientos also expanded on the Institute’s farm tourism initiatives such as the ‘Juanderful Farm Tours’. He highlighted how this helps promote the economic and cultural value of agriculture and its potential to provide additional income for farmers, farm workers, and fishers.
Other topics discussed were the ATI-APFC partnership of including Oriental Mindoro farms in their tour packages and ABS-CBN’s ‘Bantay Kalikasan’ project. Also present in the event were DA Undersecretary for Agribusiness and Marketing Jose Gabriel La Viña and Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali, Jr.
The ‘Juanderful Farm Tours’, on the other hand, was led by the Embassy of the Philippines, Washington D.C. and ATI MiMaRoPa on July 17-19, 2018 in this province. —With reports from ATI MiMaRoPa