ITOGON, Benguet – Mayor Victorio T. Palangdan underscored that agri-tourism will be the way to go to bring the province to greater heights while ensuring the sustainable preservation and protection of the environment beneficial to the greater majority of the populace.
He pointed out that much damage had been suffered by the province’s environment with the operation off large-scale mining companies that resulted to the depletion of the supply of potable water and the deforestation of vital watersheds as well as the underground destruction that had been inflicted, thus, the need to already put a stop on such destructive activities and put premium to efforts to preserve and protect the environment.
The local chief executive claimed that agriculture and tourism go hand in hand that is why programs, projects and activities of concerned government agencies and local governments must be focused on enhancing the sustainable growth of agriculture and tourism to become the province’s major economic driver in the future, especially when all the large-scale mining companies have ceased operations because of their projected end of mine life.
Mayor Palangdan emphasized that the province is blessed with numerous natural sceneries that could co-exist with agriculture which must be preserved and protected while people will be able to derive sustainable sources of livelihood with the same without unnecessarily compromising the state of the environment in the different places.
Currently, Benguet is known as the Salad Bowl of the Philippines because it is the major producer of semi-temperate vegetables being sold in the different parts of the country where more than 80 percent of the supply comes from the vegetable producers in the various vegetable-producing areas in the province.
With the existing tourist destinations that are frequently visited by foreign and domestic tourists coupled with the emergence of other thriving destinations around the province, Mayor Palangdan explained that there will surely be available jobs and economic activities for the people that will help them establish sustainable sources of livelihood beneficial to their families and for the province’s overall economic growth and development.
He stipulated that local governments that host major tourist destinations should closely coordinate with the concerned government agencies for the crafting off a comprehensive development plan on how to further improve the existing tourist spots to entice more visitors to frequent the said places once tourism-related activities will be allowed by the inter-agency task force for the management of emerging infectious diseases.
Moreover, he revealed that in the case of agriculture which also serves as a major tourist attraction, there must also be strategies that will be employed to help in improving the state of agriculture that will continue to provide adequate sources of income for the people while working with concerned government agencies to prevent the smuggling of imported agricultural crops that directly compete with locally produced ones so that the income of the farmers will not be jeopardized when prices of the same suddenly drop due to the unregulated entry of smuggled vegetables.