Agri-tourism is regarded as the intersection of tourism and agriculture. In other words, agri-tourism can be defined as the conjunction between a working farm territory aided with remunerative tourism unit, which is broadly a segment of rural enterprise. Basic principles of agritourism are to have something for the tourists to see, to do and to purchase. The farms have a series of activities involving production, post production and processing activities, which are
linked to the tourism sector that attracts visiting tourists to such ventures or activities.
These activities and ventures have a dual purpose, one being educating the tourists about the local practices of farm with certain entertainment for them and the other involves source of income generation for the host farmer.
Agri-tourism is another realm of tourism sector that has potential to grow immensely across the globe, including India. Agriculture makes significant contribution to India's GDP and thus the backbone of Indian Economy.
Agri-tourism would increase the share of agriculture in national GDP thereby providing additional source of income along with conventional agriculture and tourism industry. This becomes further crucial because around 90 million farmers (80 percent of them are small and marginal farmers) covering 6.25 lakh villages are responsible for feeding our entire nation and thus they have the most urgent need for income diversification along with additional income generation.
Agri-tourism has a potential to reduce the uncertainty of farming or agri-entrepreneurship/agri-businesses by generating additional income and creating job opportunities to the farm
families. Farmers in many regions have realised the importance and desire to diversify their farming and/or agri-businesses into agritourism to create attention of the tourists and meet their needs.
A number of financial, educational, and social benefits are provided to tourists, farmers
and rural communities by agritourism.
Agritourism brings together elements of agriculture and tourism all together, providing an opportunity for both to thrive better financially. It helps farmers in direct marketing of their farm produce to consumers. Farmers choose agri-tourism as a supplementary source of income in addition to their primary occupation along with the involvement of entire farm family for extending various services to the tourists.
A Way to Increase Income:
Agri-tourism can provide additional income through several forms viz.,
farmers' market, where tourists can purchase farm products,
picking up own products, where tourists harvest produce by themselves,
local food, where tourist prefer to have local flavor in breakfast, lunch, dinner,
participation of tourists in different farm activities and other entertainment activities like animal rides, bird watching, etc., and
experiencing rural life through local tours at different rural settings.
Agri-tourism is a potential way for the farmers to diversify and extend farm operations by innovatively using farm produces. This helps in establishing new consumer market niches, which are more aware of local agricultural products, thereby enhancing farm revenues.
This also guides in maintaining agricultural land in an efficient and effective manner, involving family members directly or indirectly in different activities, improving farm livelihood, creating
farm recreation opportunities, developing entrepreneurial as well as managerial skills and establishing agri-entrepreneurship and sustaining the agriculture and agri-businesses. There are
several strengths of agri-tourism in terms of its feasibility even among small farmers.
Agri-tourism enables additional revenue generation for local businesses and services due to presence of tourists in the locality, upliftment of common facilities for local communities and tourists, maintenance of rural landscapes and natural environments for tourists and local
people. This also invigorates the local art, craft and culture, promotes inter-regional and cross-cultural communication and understanding.
Agri-tourism helps in raising public awareness about agricultural activities and related issues and values, thus improving use of local agricultural products and services; generation of income and employment in rural areas thereby strengthening rural economy; and creation of facilitative environment for establishment of rural entrepreneurships through micro enterprises.
The establishment of agri-tourism faces certain challenges like attractions, accommodation, recreational activities, entertainment programmes, food arrangements, safety and security aspects, medical facilities, and risks and liabilities in case of accidents.
Development of agritourism needs continuous efforts in different stages, viz., land development (knowledge centre), developing accommodations and other facilities (farm stay), developing enterprise (processing, value addition and marketing farm produces) and other required infrastructure development for establishment of agrotourism centre. Some of the major challenges in up-scaling and promoting agri-tourism include lack of farmer's knowledge, lack of training opportunities to learn about agritourism and absence of infrastructure support. Identification of potential farmers and entrepreneurs who can implement agritourism projects requires skilled advisory services.
Farmers convert their farm land into a destination for the tourists to get multifaceted unique experiences starting from staying in rural setting and enjoying the natural environment to learning/ education through participation and recreation.
It is becoming increasingly popular in different states of India. Agri-tourism offers benefits to farmers, farm families, rural communities, tourists and tourism operators.
It is important to provide advisory services and building capacities of the farmers, who are the nucleus of agritourism industry, to implement, manage and sustain the agri-tourism centres.
It is vital to create information on the available agritourism centres across different states of the country to draw attention of the potential tourists. Agri-tourism needs to be an integral part of available tourism packages, and developing strategic partnerships for its further promotion in India, will contribute in strengthening Indian economy in general and rural economy in particular.