February 7, 2023

The pathways and other sections of the famed strawberry farm in La Trinidad, Benguet will soon be developed through the P50 million funding earlier committed by Benguet legislative caretaker Eric Go Yap.

Municipal Tourism Officer Valred Olsim said the fund will be coursed through the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The budget is seen to be downloaded within this year as it is incorporated in the Bayanihan 2 funding while the local government unit is coordinating with the Benguet State University, which is the owner of the lot where the strawberry fields stand.

“We need all the help that the strawberry farm can get since clearly the LGU won’t fund the development because BSU owns the property and the one that derives income from the property,” Olsim said.

The strawberry farm is the main tourist attraction in the municipality and its development has also been on a staggered basis through the years, as the municipality needs to coordinate with BSU when it comes to its plans for the farm.   

Recently, some of the candidates of the Miss Universe Philippines 2020 visited the farm as part of the efforts to promote the province.

Olsim, meanwhile, clarified the issue raised by netizens calling out the turfgrass that was placed in the walkway of the field during the candidates’ visit. He said the LGU did not use any government funds during the hosting of the candidates during their photo and video shoots. 

“In the inspection at the BSU strawberry farm area, the pageant’s working committee raised concerns on the muddy pathway going to the photoshoot area primarily on safety measures, and for a very short time or a strict itinerary is being followed (only four hours in LT),” he said.

The earlier plan was to put sand and gravel on the pathway but then the other partners were not able to deliver. The turfgrass was lent by a friend of Yap.

“In the town’s tourism plan, improvement of the pathway has long been recommended due to the following issues: recorded accidents and complaints by past visitors due to the slippery mud, crowding in the pathway due to submerged or stuck boots/shoes, etc. due to the deep mud, and the farmers’ plea for the area to be improved as it slows their movement and agricultural activities,” he added.

Olsim said there is a need to improve the strawberry farm to make the experience of tourists more unforgettable as well as help the farmers and small business owners to earn income from the tourism site in case it fully opens to the general public in the coming months. – Ofelia Empian