February 12, 2006

Senator visits Ilocos Norte
Angara backs agro-tourism in IN’s rural areas

Senator Edgardo Angara arrived in the province on February 8 to fulfill a promise to provide financial assistance in the establishment of a pilot farm on agro-tourism as an additional source of livelihood in the rural areas.

Angara, a former Department of Agriculture secretary, said in an interview that there is a need to train farmers on agro-tourism development to boost the economy and alleviate poverty in the countryside.

Popularly known and adopted by farmers in the United States and Europe, Angara said the agro-tourism project will particularly benefit local farmers in this northern part of Luzon, noting the locale’s unique and quality agriculture products such as fresh vegetables, livestock and fishery.

Agro-tourism, as practiced in western countries, is an industry where the government gives technical assistance to encourage farmers to convert their farms and houses as tourist destinations, hence giving them additional sources of income.

If practiced here, Angara said farmers with minimal earnings would no longer need to send their children to the city to work for a living but they would simply train them doing farm chores with focus on agro-tourism.

Aware of the Ilocanos’ character of being hard workers and self-reliant, Angara said the small water impounding project (SWIP) in Barangay Bingao, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, which is now a part of the pilot project on agro-tourism and which would serve as field demonstration, should spur farmers to pursue the new livelihood opportunity.

Angara pointed out that tourists, particularly those coming from big cities, would be greatly interested to try and live in the provinces, breathing fresh air and eating organic foods freshly harvested from the backyards.

Dito sa probinsya, napakaraming unique foods ang mga tao rito gaya ng tupig, vegetable salads at marami pang iba. Ito ang hinahanap-hanap ng mga taga-lungsod—ang mga unique na pagkain at produkto; (Here in the province there are lots of unique foods like tupig, vegetable salads and others. These are what those from the cities look for—unique foods and products) unique views and the farm can provide that.

The SWIP in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, when it becomes fully operational, would include vacation houses made from locally sourced materials such as cogon and bamboo, a fishing ground for picnickers, and a floating restaurant to increase local employment.

Leilanie G. Adriano

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