Thanks to the untiring efforts of three leading personalities in the country, “farm tourism” has become a buzzword in our local travel industry.
More than a decade ago, former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor educated us on the benefits of farm tourism through specialized courses she offered in her International School of Sustainable Tourism.
Almost at the same time, the hardworking Senator Cynthia Villar taught small-time farmers all over the country that there is money in farm tourism, if done in the right manner. Her Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016 showed farmers that their properties could have an alternative source of income aside from crop production.
Of course, with the designation of Berna Romulo-Puyat as our current Tourism secretary, her expertise and experience as a former undersecretary in the Department of Agriculture made our government’s involvement with farm tourism even stronger.
Everything has been going well for this sector of our tourism industry, with more of our countrymen now convinced of its financial benefits. However, a recent discovery has put forward a warning to those belonging to this sector.
The mahogany tree is popular in the country because it is the prime source of durable, elegant, and well-designed furniture. But the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), the research arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, has announced that the mahogany tree has characteristics that make it a nuisance plant.
The director of ERDB confirms that mahogany plantations are adversely affecting the farm tourism in the country.
It has been observed, for some time now, that the areas surrounding mahogany trees show dehydrated fruits falling off even before they become ripe. It turns out, mahogany trees suck whatever available nearby water there is.
No vegetables or other smaller plants grow underneath a mahogany tree because its leaves cause these other plants to die, and the tree’s leaves take a long time to rot. Worse, the ecosystem is definitely disrupted because it is observed that birds avoid contact with the tree.
Taking these findings into consideration, it is sad to note that these mahogany trees, which are favorites of furniture makers, can destroy our farms and forests which are our major sources of food and livelihood.
In some areas in the country, other indigenous trees show that their growth has been affected by nearby mahogany trees. This has pushed the DENR to encourage our countrymen to continue planting indigenous trees and keep biodiversity in check.
Now that farm tourism has grown popular all over the country, we certainly cannot allow something like this to slow down its growth. For those of you who have mahogany trees in or near your farms, you may want to contact DENR for advice.
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