DA RFO 1 in collaboration with the ATI Regional Training Center 1 and Ilocos Region Provincial Local Government Units (PLGUs) highlights agri-tourism and issues on farmers’ occupational hazards during the Pambansang Mannalon, Mag-uuma, Magbabaul, Magsasaka ng Pilipinas (P4MP) Ilocos Chapter 3rd regional congress on August 23-24.
The activity was led by DA Region 1 Regional Technical Director for Research & Regulations Dir. Orlando J. Lorenzana, ATI RTC 1 Center Chief Dir. Rogelio C. Evangelista, P4MP Ilocos Chapter President Mr. Oftociano M. Manalo Jr., La Union PLGU representative Mr. Justino F. Casuga. Also providing support to the said activity were Bauang, La Union Sangguniang Bayan Member Alexander Romeo D. Obong, and Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development Coordinator for Region 1 & CAR Ms. Ruby Ann Matutino.
Ilocos Farmers on Agri-Tourism
Through a seminar lecture by Mr. Luis D. Bausa, training manager of Duran Farm Agribusiness and Training Center Association (a well-known farm site in San Ildefonso, Bulacan owned by Daisy Duran), over 130 farmer participants were introduced to the business and investment opportunities of agri-tourism.
Bausa encouraged the farmers to develop their farms into agri-tourism and learning sites other than relying mainly on their harvest crop.
With the rising popularity of agri-tourism sites in the country, Bausa recommended that farmers should develop a region-wide agri-tourism plan for Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte.
“We should encourage the establishment of a region-wide farm tourism where visitors can explore different farming activities, sceneries, learnings and unique selling points in each province generating additional income for the farmers and job opportunities in their community,” shared Bausa in his discussions.
In Region 1, there are only seven farm sites accredited by the Department of Tourism - the Lomboy Farms in La Union and Agtalon Incorporated, Roheim Incorporated, Teraoka Farms, Medarlos Healing and Organic Garden, Rosemary Organic Garden, and Our Farm Republic in Pangasinan.
Of farmers’ health and safety
One of the highlights of the regional congress was the sessions on the operations and basic maintenance of farm machineries.
As part of DA’s mechanization program, farmers for the past years were awarded farm machineries for an easier, faster, and efficient production of their champion commodities in the region - such as rice, corn, cassava.
For this year, DA RFO 1 has a total of 897 units farm machineries and equipment for distribution to farmers groups and associations. Based on records, the agency has accomplished 59.60% of its target units for distribution.
However, the safety of farmers in operating these machineries should also be taken into serious considerations.
Mr. Rhoween R. Parica of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization shared in his lecture that farmers are vulnerable to illnesses, injuries, and accidents given that they are exposed to sharp objects, pesticides and difficult weather & working conditions. However, farmers at times, do not strictly follow the operating manuals of machineries and its required protective gears during field activities.
“Farmers should properly use their machineries,” Parica said adding that protective gears should also be included by the government in the provision of assistance to farmers.
P4MP is an organized group of Farmers Associations (FAs) and sectoral/commodities organization such as Irrigators Association, Small Coconut FAs, Fruit and Vegetables Grower Associations, Livestock and Poultry Raisers Association, Fisherfolk Association, Fish Pond Operators, Farmers Cooperative, Sugarcane FAs, Rural Based Organizations and Rural Improvement Clubs. //