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Attractions in leisure farms.

In Taiwan, leisure farms are a fast-growing industry. Entrepreneurs in the Philippines should follow suit. There are many potential farms in the country that can be developed into tourist destinations.

Good food and great fun are the ingredients in Taiwan that attract a lot of visitors from the cities not only from Taiwan but also from abroad. Right now, Singaporeans, Malaysians and Hong Kong residents are among the visitors frequenting leisure farms in Taiwan.

We were talking the other week with Dr. Pablito Pamplona in North Cotabato and he was telling us about his plan of planting at least five hectares to two exotic coconut varieties. These are the Nam Wan and Nam Hom varieties from Thailand which are grown commercially in that country and in Malaysia.

The two are dwarf varieties that start bearing fruit in just three years from planting. What is remarkable about these varieties is that they produce tender nuts and sweet water. One, particularly the Nam Hom, is said to have a very refreshing aroma.

These varieties are very prolific as per the experience of Dr. Pamplona in North Cotabato. Another attraction that could be incorporated by Dr. Pamplona in his coconut farm is his special durian variety, the Rajah Kunyit. We have tasted the fruit of this variety and we are convinced it could be a big plus in attracting visitors.

Rajah Kunyit has a chrome yellow flesh that is sweet with a mealy consistency. It is small, an average of 1.5 kilos per fruit, which can be consumed by one person in one sitting. For marketing purposes, being small, it is much easier to market than the big varieties.

Of course, Dr. Pamplona has other exotic fruits that include Longkong lanzones, mangosteen and pummelos. These could be added attractions to his farm.

In Taiwan, fun activities are among the big attractions besides good food. At the Fu Wan Leisure Farm in Pingtung in the southern part of Taiwan, leisure fishing is one of the fun activities. The farm has a one-hectare fishpond stocked with grouper (lapu-lapu) and tilapia. One favorite species is the Tiger grouper which has a pretty color pattern. When the leisure angler catches a Tiger, he just pays NT$200 for it. He can also have it cooked in the farm's restaurant for another NT$200. If the angler catches a tilapia, he does not have to pay for it. It is for free.

At the Fairy Lake Leisure Farm, the fun activities could be grinding one's Arabica coffee and then brewing and drinking it later. Or if fruits are in season, the visitors can enjoy picking ripe lychee and longan.

At the Tainan Duck Farm, the leisure activities could include learning to make salted egg and century egg. One can also watch a duck race in a pond with a meter-wide raceway. The owner, Prof. Su King-fa, has trained some ducks that compete in a swimming race in a waterway about a meter wide and a hundred meters long. This is for the entertainment of visitors.

This is how it works. From one end of the water way, he gives the ducks enough pellets to whet their appetite but which is not enough to satisfy their hunger. As soon as the feed is finished (in just a few seconds), they race to the other end of the raceway because they know that there is another batch of feed awaiting them there. The feed at the end is still not enough so they rush back to where they started because they know there is more feed waiting for them there. In that particular race we saw, one duck which was a couple of ducks behind, flew over the two ducks ahead so it could reach the feed first. Quite entertaining.

FOOD AND ORCHIDS - We also visited the leisure farm of a smart orchid man in the town of Tian-Wei in the county of Changhua. The owner, Mr. Wu Hong-Ze, used to be a small rack-type flower grower whose business grew and grew. In 1991, he reinvented his orchid business. He converted a big orchid greenhouse into a restaurant and orchid shop, which has become a profitable combination.

The restaurant has two big dining rooms. The bigger one which we estimate to be at least 600 square meters offers a buffet lunch and dinner as well as ala carte options. The other room which is just a bit smaller is also a dining area with a big portion devoted to a display of gorgeous phalaenopsis orchids for sale. Some are in big elegant containers for gift-giving or for home use.

The bigger dining room has a special dAaAaAeA@cor beneath the ceiling - lar Boson ferns that look like green chandeliers.

This is one idea that can be duplicated in the Philippines. One can put up a restaurant that serves really good food, and in one section, flowering orchids and ornamental plants can be displayed for sale.

FLYING COW RANCH - This is a 52-hectare leisure farm that offers a lot of products and activities. It is one that is visited by thousands of tourists who want to experience what it is like to be in a dairy farm. It is where we tasted for the first time a different hotpot lunch. Milk, instead of water, is used in the pot for cooking the vegetables, meat and seafood. We liked it and perhaps it is doubly nutritious.

Even the dessert is prepared differently. The pudding, for instance, comes like a big billiard ball contained in a thin rubbery material that resembles that of a balloon. You pierce it with a toothpick or a similar pointed object and the contents are totally unwrapped.

The ranch has forests all around, except for a grassy area where 39 milk cows graze for visitors to see. There are many farm animals that visitors love to feed like goats, ducks, rabbits, etc. There are also other do-it-yourself (DIY) activities such as milking the cows, making ice cream or cheese, baking and more.

Now you see. There are many different kinds of attractions in leisure farms.

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Title Annotation:Agriculture
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9TAIW
Date:Jul 25, 2014
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