Assistant regional director Rubeb Hugno of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA); and the agriculturists from Mindoro; Marinduque; Romblon; and Palawan during the Season-Long Trainers Training held at Yamang Bukid Farm-Palawan. (Photo courtesy of Aris Leoven/Yamang Bukid)

The Philippines’ prime tourism city is fast becoming an emerging organic farming hub, with farmers and agriculture experts from various parts of the country visiting here to immerse and learn.

This after agriculturists from several Southern Luzon provinces did exposure and immersive activities at Yamang Bukid Farm, a farm tourism destination in Puerto Princesa City’s Bacungan village, recently.

Organized by Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Training Institute (ATI), dozens of participants included DA-ATI personnel as well as government agriculturists from the provinces of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan (MIMAROPA).

The farming experts were toured to Yamang Bukid Farm’s roadside main tourism area where they took part in planting lettuce on plots, observe huge pens of native chicken breeds like the Zampen (Zamboanga Peninsula) and interact with farmers as they go about with their different farming practices.

“What we saw were beyond our expectations. Technology and good practices are there. The people, especially the farmers are warm and welcoming,” observed Cristina Gonda-Magnaye, head of ATI-Mimaropa extension services.

Fernando Hubo, one of the farm’s agriculturists, said the visitors learned about the Farm’s sustainable agriculture practices such as inter-cropping, contouring and vegetable production.

The farming experts interacted with farmers as they work on the field and the two groups exchanged ideas on traditional and modern farming practices, said Liza Jean Yocte, another Yamang Bukid Farm agriculturist.

“They are able to adopt the latest trends in (sustainable) agriculture such as making organic concoction as pesticides in lieu of commercial pest repellants. The farm is continuously developing techniques to make it sustainable,” said Jane Siscar, an agriculturist of the city government of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro.

Aside from being a farm for natural agriculture, Yamang Bukid Farm is also gaining a reputation as a new addition to must-see places in Puerto Princesa City and the entire Palawan.

Local and foreign tourists have been flocking to the place, with weekend visitors reaching 5,000, farm officials said.

Well-manicured vegetable and flower gardens, with the virtually endless sea of sunflower blooms, have made the farm a favorite spot for pre-wedding pictorials and a draw to selfie-takers.

It also has a restaurant which serves regional dishes with organically-raised and produced vegetables as ingredients.

The farming destination has over 200 employees, 95 percent of whom are former illegal loggers and kaingineros (slash-and-burn farmers), making it one of the biggest employers in Bacungan, a village surrounded by sea and rolling hills and is considered the country’s largest land area.

Yamang Bukid Farm is also among the farming destinations in Palawan designated by DA-ATI as a learning site, and a Farm School  by the Technical Skills Education Development Authority (Tesda) to conduct national competency trainings on farming and animal husbandry.

The Farm is set to host another round of agriculture farming by DA-ATI early next month, with agriculturists in various parts of the country in attendance.

As this developed, operators of farm tourism sites in Palawan have banded together and organized into an association on Thursday, with the aim of pushing further the organic farming agenda in Philippine’s last frontier province.