Preparing ASHI for AgriTourism

Posted on 05/30/2023

If there's one thing my friends know about me, it's that I will say yes to any adventure and jump in with both feet. This time, I found myself touching down in Manila for the first time just over a month after I was asked if I'd be interested in volunteering for the Farmers to Farmer Program. I spent a little over two weeks in the Philippines as a part of this project, learning from locals and sharing my knowledge of sustainable agritourism as the first step towards developing new enterprises for underserved farmers. My host organization for this assignment was Ahon sa Hirap, Inc. - a microfinance organization supporting entrepreneurs and farmers throughout the country.

During my time in the provinces of Rizal and Laguna, I crossed rivers, hiked up mountainsides, stood under waterfalls and enjoyed more fresh buko - young coconut - than I'd had in my life. I camped on the beach with ASHI staff and posed for countless group photos on farms and in municipal offices. Along the way, I was welcomed into the communities and homes of farmers and small business owners all over the provinces.

The Philippines has a successful existing tourism industry, but one that's often restricted to a few islands and beaches. It's rare for foreign visitors like me to step outside of the tourist centers and be granted such an authentic and personal experience. Even for locals, there's often a separation between the bustling city and the nation's vast swathes of agricultural land.

Agritourism presents a unique opportunity to bridge those gaps. The farmers and entrepreneurs that I met are incredible people with knowledge and experiences worth sharing. ASHI's resources and knowledge base make them well-equipped to support farmers and create an agritourism enterprise that benefits farmers and tourists alike- leveraging the economic power of tourism for farmers and giving tourists an increased understanding of what it takes to grow their food.

I loved my time in the Philippines and with ASHIs staff and members. I always looked forward to the adventure, but didn't realize the impact the people would have on me. I'll be back to the Philippines one day - and when I return, I know I'll be visiting ASHIs agritourism programs.

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