IN an effort to promote farm tourism and farm schools in the country, Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, launched the 6th Edition of her Farm Tourism Book for 2021.

“The book, consisting of 2,805 listings, is a Directory of Farm Schools, Tourism Farms, Learning Sites, and TESDA Agri Centers in the Philippines. It contains in full color, photographs and contact details of these sites from all the country’s 17 regions,” said Villar.

The directory also includes the classification of farm whether it’s under rice, corn, coconut, organic crops, non-organic crops, high-value organic crops, bamboo, livestock, poultry, dairy, aquaculture, wild catch, and diversified.  It also features a list of TESDA- accredited courses on agriculture, which farm schools can teach for free students and farmers.

A project of Villar SIPAG, the directory intends to further boost Farm Tourism in the country. This will also serve as a guide to farm enthusiasts, trainees and tourists about farm destinations and learning sites in the country.

“From a list of only 386 in its first edition, the number of farm schools has reached over 2,367 in the fifth edition and now, we have 2,805 in the sixth edition,” noted Villar. 

These included the four farm schools built by Villar SIPAG in Las Pinas-Bacoor; San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan; San Miguel, Iloilo; and Davao City.

“I continue to urge farmers to follow the example of others who have since become more profitable after converting their farms into tourism and learning sites. They have tripled their income sources—from their crops or harvests, from tourists who visit their farms and from trainees who enroll in training programs,” Villar said.

The senator is the principal  author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 10816 or the Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016 that is widely lauded and credited for strengthening  agriculture-related tourism in the country. 

The said law paved the way for an increasing number of farmers, farm owners and farming communities to enjoy the benefits of converting their farms into farm tourism sites and farm schools. 

“They have multiplied their earning sources–from their crops, from the tourists’ who visit their farm and buy products as well as from the tuition fees of the trainees in their farm schools being paid by TESDA,” noted Villar.

The farm schools serve as learning sites for farmers and plant enthusiasts who are given the opportunity to train for free on the ways of modern farming. 

Once accredited with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) or by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Villar said a farm school can avail of government support and scholarship grants as a learning site.

“Farm schools provide agriculture-related training to help remove the barriers that prevent Filipino farmers from being competitive and profitable, including the lack of technology, mechanization and financial literacy, and knowledge in operating a farm as a business and ability to access cheap credit,” said Villar. 

“With these projects, we hope to make our agriculture more competitive and profitable,” further stated Villar.

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