(The Gist of Kurukshetra) AGRI-TOURISM:
POTENTIAL AND CHALLENGES
AGRI-TOURISM: POTENTIAL AND CHALLENGES
- Tourism is one of the most important revenue generating sectors of any
country. It not only generates employment opportunities but also alleviates
poverty and is a catalyst for rural development.
- Rural tourism is a form of tourism that takes place in rural areas or
settlements, providing employment and income to local population, and
offering individualized holiday products to consumers. Agri-tourism is a
form oftourism which involves agriculture based operation that brings
visitors to the farms. Agri-tourism is where agriculture meets tourism and
there are certain learning along with leisure and vacation. Agri- tourism is
a leisure activity which also helps the person understand and appreciate the
work done by the farmer.
Agri-tourism is the latest concept in the Indian tourism industry. It gives
the tourist an opportunity to experience the real, enchanting and authentic
contact with the rural life, taste the local cuisine and get familiar with
the various farming tasks during the visit. It provides a welcome escape
from the daily hectic life in the peaceful rural environment. It gives the
tourist a chance to relax and revitalize in pristine natural environment,
surrounded by magnificent rural setting. The tourist gets the opportunity to
see the real India and have the experience of the lifetime. Agri- tourism
helps the child especially the urban child who normally lives in closed door
school, watches television and mostly remains confined to the four walls of
the home to understand and appreciate the traditional way of farming, milk
production etc. Agriculture currently is under stress in terms of farmers'
earnings and vagaries of nature. Through Agri-tourism the farmer benefits by
increasing his earnings and this benefit could percolate to the village
community The increased earnings is possible through the following methods:
- Expanding his farm operations so as to create an interest in the
- Using farm products in an innovative way. For instance, the farmer
and / or the community can prepare fresh juice or snacks and sell them to
the tourist. This strategy is seen in tourist places like in Mahabaleshwar
where one of the leading juice manufacturers has created a see through
glass" enclosure through which the tourist is able to see how the
various fruit juices are prepared. Outside this enclosure is another
enclosed space where the organization sells fruit juices at a discounted
price which is less than the price at which it is available in the urban
areas. The Agri-tourism concept may possibly adopt a similar strategy.
- Developing new consumer niches by selling farm products directly.
At several places from Nashik to Mumbai on way one can see farmers selling
their products on the street. Perhaps this idea could be extended to
farmer's market at the village level.
- Creating an improved farm living conditions, working areas and
farm recruitment opportunities.
- Allowing tourists to either plough the fields or harvest products
for a price. This would however depend on the farming cycle. Many of the
children and parents, especially the urban family groups, have lost touch
with their roots. They have seen villages in the cinema halls or in
television. This may be a new method to attract the tourist to villages and
give them a firsthand experience of farm activities.
- Generating additional revenue for local business and services from
the tourist. The tourist would need several items which can be procured from
the nearby towns and sold to them thus bringing in additional revenue to the
- Upgrading and revitalizing community facilities for the residents
and the visitors.
- Helping preserve local traditions, art forms and culture.
- Helping in diversifying and strengthening the rural economy
through job creation.
- Empowering the women in the villages.
- Interacting with the urban tourist could also help in reducing the
impact of the social ills like superstitions etc.
Agri-tourism can take several forms. Some of the products that can be
- Farmers' Market: Here the farm products can be purchased by the
tourist at any time and in any quantity.
- Pick your own products: here the tourist can be encouraged to
enter the farms and pick up the products directly e.g. pick up apples,
strawberries, cabbages, grapes, pumpkins etc.This is widely practiced in
several developed countries and also in a small way in certain tourist
centers in India. Of course the products that can be picked would depend on
the season. The quantity picked is then purchased by the tourist.
- Savour local flavor: typical village breakfast, lunch or dinner
may be offered, for instance in Maharashtra "kandapoha” is offered for
breakfast. Tourist may sit on the floor or on the 'charpoy' and have
breakfast, lunch etc. This is something which many tourists enjoy. In South
India, many tourists enjoy eating food on banana leaf especially in areas
like Kerala, Tamil Nadu etc.
- Participation: Tourist may be requested to try lighting the 'choolah'
and cook simple food. Many of the urban children and parents have only seen
a choolah in the movies or in the books. This gives them a different and
varied experience which is memorable and unforgettable. Cooking
demonstration classes may be arranged, especially the traditional cuisine.
This ideally would be a big hit amongst the urban women. Tourists can be
encouraged to do cow milking, sheep shearing. Cow milking is something which
is difficult but also interesting.
- Tourists can be encouraged to milk the cow and this can be
purchased by the tourist at a price. Care however must be taken with regard
to the safety angle.
- Experience Rural life: A conducted tour around the village may
give insight about the rural life. In Mumbai, for example one of the world's
largest slums is located at a place called Dharavi. Foreign tourists like
visiting Dharavi just to understand life in a slum. The tourist is also
asked to enter the house of select slum dwellers and partake some food etc.
A similar concept can be developed in the villages also. The tourist may be
offered something innovative to observe and enjoy like some aspects of the
culture, dress, nearby forts, temples, bird watching etc. They may be
offered to stay in a typical mud hut etc. Typically in some countries in the
middle east and in some cities in Rajasthan tourists are encouraged to stay
Implementation of Agri-tourism is not without some challenges. Some of them
are listed below:
- Quality and complexity of services. Quality in service is the
basic prerequisite for the survival of Agri-tourism. For this it is
necessary to have a dedicated and motivated staff who are skilled in
presentation of products in a professional way. Many urban tourists would
love to enjoy the rustic flavor of rural life but with both private and
public organizations in tandem. The farmer who is at the center of the Agri-tourism
network of stakeholders is the key to success. Some of the stakeholders who
are part of this
Agri-tourism network is given below:
- Farmer: The farmer is at the center of this network.
- Medical Facilities: Availability of medical facilities is
- Transportation Network: Availability of transportation network is
another important aspect. This includes good road facility, availability of
a good network of road, railway etc.
- Safety Aspects: This is a critical prerequisite.
- Media and Communication: Media plays a very important part in
promoting Agri- tourism. Care must be taken in promoting and communicating
proper messages which would make Agri-tourism a grand success.
- Tourism organizations play the role of a catalyst in promoting
- Government and Hospitality industry also play a critical role in
promoting Agri- tourism.
- In addition to the above there are several other stakeholders who
are critical and important in the promotion of Agritourism.
- Today there is a general awareness regarding the quality of food
that eats. There is a growing fascination towards
- Need for a strategy to create innovative products.
- Rural Tourism is one of the prominent forms of tourism and
evolving as a primary
- Need for a well-defined strategy both at the form tourism sector.
Now, it is being national as well as the state level. recognised as an
important driver of rural economic growth and source of alternative Some
such strategies in promoting Agri-tourism could be:
- Government supported policy structure. large scale employment for
both skilled and unskilled labour force including youths There is a need for
the government to develop and implement policy measures in residing in rural
areas. Hence, the promotion of rural tourism can this regard.
- Education of the farmer and the farm play a major role in the
creation of additional employment opportunities in owner for development of
the rural areas.
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