Already on its 8th edition, the Philippine Harvest at Central Square has once again celebrated and promoted the richness of Philippine agriculture, now, as a platform to boost farm tourism around the archipelago. Dubbed “Philippine Harvest: Celebration of Philippine Food Destinations,” the four-day food fair organized by the Department of Tourism (DOT), in partnership with the SSI (Stores Specialists, Inc.) Group and Central Square, highlighted culinary destinations like Bicol, Negros Occidental, Cebu, and Davao last June 14-17, 2018 at Central Square Mall, Bonifacio High Street Central, BGC.
The event has also been an avenue for a wide range of exhibitors to highlight Philippine beverages and spirits; Filipino agripreneurs who participated in the 2017 Madrid Fusion Manila; the best French food to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Philippines-France diplomatic ties; and most recently, the world-famous flavors of Spain for Philippine Harvest meets Sabores de Espana.
“While I was still with the Department of Agriculture (DA), I was very keen on learning about food and its origin,” said DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, formerly DA Undersecretary for Agribusiness and Marketing Regional Engagement.
“So almost always, my technical trips to the farms would include meeting the stakeholder farmers, relishing the local cuisine and enjoying their farming stories. Every trip was a learning experience with different landscapes, quaint farm sites, and interesting traditions. These farm sites are must-visit tourist destinations that we encourage everyone to experience.”
The DOT, together with the Central Square and the SSI Group, extended the invitation to farmers, fisher folk, and farm practitioners to come up with an interactive dialogue and local food exhibition.
“The Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016 aims to promote increased awareness on the value of farm tourism through advocacy campaigns and marketing activities, like the Philippine Harvest trade fair,” said Secretary Romulo-Puyat. “We hope that, through events like this, we can urge local and foreign tourists to experience farm tourism in any of the 52 DOT accredited agritourism farm sites.”
Local produce from the 40 local food exhibitors that have been bannered in the recently-concluded gastronomic food fair were Alavar sauce from Zamboanga, dried fish from Bantayan Island, chili peppers for the hot dessert siling labuyo ice cream of Bicol, El Union coffee from La Union, quail eggs, miki noodles and pork belly for the noodle dishes, and Pancit Cabagan and Pancit Batil Patong from the province of Isabela.
SSI Group, Inc. President Anton Huang said, “As we continue to provide lifestyle offerings to our consumers, we at SSI are proud to, once again, showcase the best of what the Philippines has to offer and give our guests another opportunity to appreciate the Philippines’ finest flavors and ingredients at Central Square.”