Farm tourism provides business opportunities amid pandemic

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to engage in agri or farm tourism that provides huge business opportunities as they expand into new agri-markets especially amid the pandemic.

Ma. Lourdes Japson, former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and now the general manager of Striker Travel, said agri or farm tourism can be an alternative because tourism sites are closed during coronavirus lockdown while most restaurants are also closed for dining.

“I think agri tourism or farm tourism is a good new product that you can consider,” she said in Filipino in a virtual forum. “You can set-up al fresco dining spaces and pick-and-cook (experience) or make your own dishes. Farm-to-table activity or they are called slow food will be a trend you should study for market expansion.”

Japson said farm enterprises can also allocate spaces for herb gardens as more consumers are fond of herbal medicines.

“No man is an island, you can quickly expand your reach if you will work with others. If you are selling fruit and vegetables, try to find some other business that will complement it like blender vendor, you can have product bundling. Bundle your product, that way you are able to reach two customers instead of just one. Let us not be greedy, this makes sense,” she added.

Japson said farm enterprises can also supply fruits and vegetables to restaurants, farming kits, and do-it-yourself kits like materials for bamboo baskets.

“In these trying times, many may have lost most of their businesses but there are also new needs, new services, new products that are now considered staple under the new normal,” she said.

Japson said these are among the strategies that enterprises can undertake to entice the interests of new markets to their farm products and become profitable.

“If before online businesses and digital marketing were only a trend, these have become a necessity in the pandemic,” she added.

Alma Rita Jimenez, former DOT Undersecretary and now strategy and innovation consultant and president of Health Solutions Corp., identified trends that will benefit small farm enterprises.

“Agritourism, rural tourism will gain momentum because people will not like crowds, will go back to basics and patronize places where they can help,” she said in the same forum.

Jimenez said digital technology and social platforms enabled direct farm-to-market activities.

“Lockdowns and quarantines forced people to rely on local food suppliers for their needs. This led to renewed interest, if they will be interested again in what the agriculture sector is doing and the role it plays in food security,” she added.

Jimenez said governments channel support to keep the supply lines for food open.

She also cited the rise of regenerative farming that intends to increase overall yield while improving the quality of land, conserving water, reducing cost, and enriching soil and generating greater biodiversity.

Jimenez said another good development is the climatarian diets and sustainable food produced through regenerative systems but focused on reducing carbon footprints and labeling that enables consumers to make more conscious decisions.

Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC) Executive Director Nelly Nita Dillera said the demographics of young and old can boost the agritourism market in the country.

“The knowledge and interest of our older farmers and new technology that are brought in by the young can actually boost our agritourism,” she said. “And the complementation of health and wellness, tourists are looking for wide areas, (and) open air. I think as far as tourism is concerned, farm tourism is one of those that will easily be or be among those that will be visited by a lot of tourists soon,” she added.

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