14 Jan Agri-Tourism in India
Agri-Tourism in India- Today Current Affairs
Agriculture is a mainstay of the Indian economy being deeply rooted in the Indian culture. The concept of agri-tourism is not very new; however, it is gaining importance and growing in the recent years. Agri-tourism is being promoted for the development of rural areas in the developed countries of the world since past decades and it is being considered as a vital factor which can positively influence economic, environmental, demographic and sociological aspects. It is being encouraged in the areas having high biodiversity and landscape diversity.
Agri-tourism provides the urban tourists an experience of rural life by opening up the farms to them. Agri-tourism combines agriculture-based activities and tourism aspects that brings visitors to the farms, where they not only enjoy the vacation and Ieisure but also understand and appreciate the activities performed by the farmers, who in turn get an opportunity to maximize their profit and employment potentials on farm products and services. Agri-tourism is presently getting popularity as producers emphasize diversification in agriculture and an increase in profit; urban visitors prefer touring to rural areas to experience the peaceful rural environment.
Farm visits, farm stays and trail visits have been a preferences of many tourists in recent times to experience something different as compared to traditional sightseeing at the places of tourists’ interest. The rural economy gets substantial boost from the union of agriculture with tourism sector resulting in agritourism.
The term ‘agri-tourism’ is alternatively used as agro-tourism, farm tourism, agricultural tourism, agritainment. It is also viewed as a part of rural tourism. The urban people who tour the farms, prefer to stay at farm house, engage in farming activities, enjoy different rides like animal rides,bullock cart ride, and tractor ride, eat local food, purchase farm fresh fruits and vegetables, experience and understand the local art and culture. The farmer maintains both farm and home for stay of urban tourists, brings innovations to attract new tourists, sells farm produce at a remunerative price, and earns a livelihood all year round. Farmers offer a number of services to the tourists. These, however, vary from one farm to other. The products and services include accommodation, entertainment, therapies at farms, farm retailing, catering, participatory mode of farming etc.
Agri-tourism is another realm of tourism sector that has potential to grow immensely across the globe, including India. Agriculture make 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.
Progress in India: The Hindu Analysis
In India, as per Census of 2011, about 69 percent of total population resides in villages and 62 percent of population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. The tourism sector in India generated about 37 million employments, thereby contributing about nine percent of total employment in 2015. Tourism sector has been expanding that can be facilitated through agriculture under agritourism. Ecological beauty, water bodies and traditional handicrafts of the region enables the tourism in rural areas. Rural tourism was initiated during 10th five-year plan.Rajasthan and Kerala took early advantages of this initiative. Later on, Maharashtra became the most progressive state in implementing agri-tourism at different districts. Agri-tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) was established in 2004.
A Way to Increase Income: The Hindu Analysis
Agri-tourism provides a potential option to farmer to increase his/her income. A farmer needs to expand farm operation so as to create interests of the tourists. Arrangements of selling the farm produce as farm fresh immediate after harvesting, processing of produce in front of tourists, value addition of the produce and on-farm marketing, not only draws attention but also provide the farmer immediate income. Direct selling of farm produce develops new consumer niches in that particular area. Creating the avenues of tourists interests and involvements in the farming activities like harvesting of the produce, parks with gardens, food parks, agri-museums, etc. gives different sources of income. Establishment of agri-preneurship using the farm produce as resources, creates agri-business and employment opportunities. Thus, agri-tourism can provi~e additional income through several forms like i) farmers’ market, where tourists can purchase farm products, (ii) picking up own products, where tourists harvest produce by themselves, (iii) local food, where tourist prefer to have local flavor in breakfast, lunch, dinner, (iv) participation of tourists in different farm activities and other entertainment activities like animal rides, bird watching, etc., and (v) experiencing rural Iife through local tours at different rural settings.
Benefits: The Hindu Analysis
Agri-tourism benefits all its stakeholders in several ways. Among the different stakeholders, farmer is at the centre of agritourism network. 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. It doesn’t require large land holding and farmers of age group between 30 to 60 years, having a higher level of education, are operating most of the agritourism centres. Out-migration from rural to urban areas for seeking livelihood has been an emerging issue that can be addressed with the promotion of agritourism.
Challenges: The Hindu Analysis
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. Moreover, establishing and managing agri-tourism is a challenging task for farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs in the absence of a good planning and understanding of management practices. Farmers are to be given advisories to make them understand the importance and create desire to diversify their agricultural businesses into agritourism to provide value added products and services that meet the need of tourists. Quality and complexity of services as well as cooperation amongst the stakeholders are challenges to implementation of agri-tourism. Agri-tourism network involves farming, medical facilities, transportation, safety aspects, media and communication, tourism agencies, government and hospitality industry. The coordination between all aforesaid services providers determines the successful implementation of agri-tourism.
Farmers convert their farm land into desirable destination for the tourists to get multifaceted unique experiences starting from staying in ruraI 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 operator. 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 its further promotion in India, will contribute in strengthening Indian economy in general and rural economy in particular.