Studies: How can agriculture, ecotourism get back under the new normal?
Agriculture and ecotourism: how will they fare in the new normal?
The recent Sixth National R&D Conference (NRDC) discussed food risk and security issues online, and the impacts of the pandemic on 10 ecotourism sites.
With the theme “Pananaliksik in Pagpapaunlad: Daan Tungo sa Pagbangon [Road to Recovery through R&D]NRDC’s featured programs and technologies support the government’s pan-Canadian approach to recovering from the pandemic. The conference was chaired by the Office of the Under-Secretary for R&D of the Department of Science and Technology.
The two research projects that were presented on the first day of the NRDC were led by members of the National Research Council of the Philippines, the NRCP said in its press release.
Dr Vachel Gay V. Paller, member of the Biological Sciences Division of NRCP, presented the results of his research program on the FRESH FARMS project (Risk analysis and food security in farms towards improving control strategies for food security).
FRESH FARMS provides scientific evidence for the need to address issues related to agricultural practices that pose threats to the health of farmers and consumers.
According to the study, to avoid possible adverse consequences for public health, it is strongly recommended to implement proactive measures and measures, as the food supply network has grown in recent years.
The study aimed to address the problems of food contamination, in particular pathogens and heavy metal contamination of fresh produce. It intended to expand its impact on farm management strategies and the marketing of fresh produce improvements, as well as food security and public health promotions.
Asked about her plans for the research results to be adopted by many Filipinos, Paller said good agricultural practices are very important because they help in the transmission of parasites and microbes.
She added that capacity building in the agricultural sector is also essential.
Paller noted that a laboratory is being built at the University of the Philippines Los Baños to help facilitate and help trace food contamination to prevent a possible outbreak,
“[W]e hope that we can have systematic traceability, ”she added.
Meanwhile, Dr Belinda F. Espiritu, member of the Social Sciences Division of NRCP, presented the results of her research on “Impacts, Lessons Learned, and Ways to go in 10 Ecotourism Sites in the Philippines [Ecotourism in the Time of Covid-19 Pandemic]. “
Espiritu noted the strong contribution of the tourism industry to the country’s GDP with a continuous increase over the four consecutive years from 2016 to 2019, according to the Statistics Authority of the Philippines (PSA).
But Covid-19 has seriously disrupted the global economy with international travel bans affecting more than 90% of the world’s population and widespread restrictions on public gatherings and community mobility, with tourism having largely ceased since March of the year. last.
The Espiritu study sought to know the impact and lessons learned from the pandemic and the ways forward in these 10 ecotourism sites.
These are, from Luzon: Costales Nature Farms, Masungi Geoserve, Pawikan Conservation Center, Donsol Whale Shark Tourism and Ilagan Sanctuary.
From Visayas: Taklong Island National Marine Reserve and Danao Adventure Park.
From Mindanao: Philippine Eagle Center, Enchanted River and Lake Sebu.
According to Espiritu, Covid-19 resulted in the shutdown of ecotourism operations for a few months, resulting in a huge loss of income and livelihoods, not only for ecotourism management and staff, but also for businesses. related to tourism.
Another finding was that it showed the resilience of resorting to urban and rural agriculture, the planting of ornamental plants for sale, the development of entrepreneurship, creativity in making salable items and the learning other livelihood skills.
The research also revealed that the pandemic provided a “rest” to the environment and bioecology, which flourished without human disturbance.
However, there is a constant need for vigilance against the threat of illegal logging and encroachment into protected areas.
Meanwhile, tourism agents have come to realize the lack of a contingency plan during unexpected crises like Covid-19, especially to have alternative livelihoods for staff and other stakeholders.
There is also a need to be more environmentally friendly as people return to natural resources for their needs in times of global crisis.
Based on the research findings, Espiritu recommended that the project and the Department of Tourism (DOT) livelihood funds be able to reach the most remote ecotourism sites in the country and provide assistance to tourism-related establishments. in coordination with regional DOT offices.
Moreover, restarting tourism would mean restarting it with an emphasis on sustainability.
Espiritu said there should be periodic rest from ecotourism sites.
At the same time, she recommended that to regain the confidence of tourists in travel, local government units encourage local tourism and travel bubbles between cities, provinces or countries with managed Covid-19 cases, the NRCP said.