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Agritourism brings income, jobs to rural areas

(The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The convergence of agriculture and tourism contributes to rural development.

“It opens a whole new perspective for agriculture to contribute to our country’s development via the tourism route,” said Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr., director of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), an international research institute based in Los Baños.

“At the grassroots, it opens possibilities for diversification of income and community involvement,” he said during the recent opening of the 1st National Agritourism Conference in the Philippines.

“We are taking a bold step in placing our belief up front that agriculture and tourism have convergence points,” Saguiguit said, adding “The idea is agriculture can be an object and focus of tourism.”

He said “agriculture and all its wonderful trappings when properly and uniquely packaged can help attract tourists to the country and visitors to the countryside. The two bring value added to each other.”

Noting that agriculture and tourism are currently “mutually exclusive,” Saguiguit urged the development of agritourism research to identify what “products, activities, services and attributes are attractive to foreign and local visitors as well as identify gaps and policy needs” for the industry.

Agritourism explores yet another way how we can put the Philippines “on the map by showcasing our agriculture upon which the lives of our people revolve,” he said.

With “Strengthening Agriculture-Tourism Linkages through Research” as its theme, the conference was jointly organized by the SEARCA and Tourism Foundation of the University of the Philippines-Asian Institute of Tourism.

The conference focused on the current status of agritourism research and development (R&D) in the country and brought together entrepreneurs and investors, industry regulators and members of the academe who are engaged in agritourism R&D projects.

Earlier, Saguiguit said a major output is the consolidation of the currently loose agritourism community into the Philippines Agritourism Research Network.

The conference emphasized agritourism as an important tool to diversify farming and boost rural economies.

Consolidating research outputs and initiatives related to agriculture and tourism would have a stronger impact on the reduction of poverty and the protection of natural resources, he said.

Saguiguit has emphasized that for an agricultural country like the Philippines, which through the years has also poised itself as a world-class tourism hub, the potential contribution of agritourism to the stability and growth of the economy could not be underestimated.

SEARCA – established by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization in 1966 to provide high quality graduate study in agriculture – promotes, undertakes and coordinates research programs related to the needs and problems of Southeast Asia and disseminates the findings of agricultural research and experimentation.

It is committed to build the capacities of Southeast Asian institutions working toward agricultural and rural development through graduate scholarship, research and development and knowledge management.

SEARCA also focuses on influencing leaders and centers of excellence in the region to generate a positive impact on agricultural and rural development.

AGRICULTURE AGRITOURISM DEVELOPMENT DR. GIL C GRADUATE STUDY AND RESEARCH LOS BA RESEARCH SAGUIGUIT TOURISM
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