DAR EYES AGRI-TOURISM PROJECT TO AID ATI ARBS IN BORACAY
TOURISM DEV’T PLAN. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) gathers various stakeholders for a one-day forum in Kalibo, Aklan on Thursday (April 4, 2019) to discuss support they can extend to implement the development plan for the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization (BATO). DAR is eyeing to develop into an agri-tourism area the parcel of land awarded to the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization last year.(Photo courtesy of Leonor Lena)
ILOILO CITY –The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is eyeing to develop into an agri-tourism area the parcel of land awarded to the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization (BATO) last year.
On Thursday, the DAR gathered stakeholders for a forum in Kalibo to discuss the needed support for the Ati agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to turn the proposal into reality.
In a phone interview, DAR Western Visayas Regional Director Stephen Leonidas said Secretary John Castriciones sent consultants to Boracay to study how to develop the 3.2064 hectares awarded to the BATO last November 8.
“That would be useless if we only distribute and there is no support that will be provided,” he said.
He added that the agri-tourism plan was due to the influx of tourists in the island.
“We will introduce crops that can help support the vegetable requirement of Boracay,” he said, adding that based on their survey, some 80 to 90 percent of the supply requirement of hotels are sourced from outside of the island.
“If this is realized, it can help add to the income of the Ati, at the same time promote tourism in Boracay,” he added.
Part of the development plan is also to train the Ati to speak in Mandarin and Korean languages so they can interact with tourists.
“It has been planned. It is just a matter of presenting to partner agencies for them to help implement the plan,” Leonidas said.
The forum ended with a commitment signing by partner stakeholders.
In an earlier interview, Castriciones said the Go Negosyo and the Aboitiz are among the organizations that presented programs to be able to help the Atis.
Meanwhile, an additional 16 hectares will be awarded to qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries in Boracay. The additional coverage is intended for the “tumandok” or the original settlers of the island.
Leonidas said the validation by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now ongoing.
While waiting for the official turnover, the DAR is also identifying potential beneficiaries.
“DENR turns over the specific area and location of the 16 hectares. We will finalize everything and issue land ownership award,” he said, adding that currently, more than 100 individuals have registered to signify their interest to become beneficiaries.
Leonidas said the registration does not mean that they are qualified because there are still criteria that will be followed in choosing the beneficiaries. (PNA)