AGRI – TOURISM: INNOVATIVE SUPPLEMENTARY INCOME GENERATING ACTIVITY FOR ENTERPRISING FARMERS

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Agriculture is the backbone of Indian Economy. Around 85 percent of the population is directly or indirectly dependent on Agriculture and almost 26 percent of India’s GDP comes from Agriculture. 110 million farmers are dwelling in 0.625 million villages producing more than 350 MT of food grains feeding the country. More than a profession or a business, agriculture is India’s culture. Hence, adding additional income generating activities to existing agriculture would certainly increase contribution of agriculture in the national GDP. Serious efforts are been made in this direction and Agri – Tourism is one such activity.

Tourism is termed as an instrument for employment generation, poverty blogalleviation and sustainable human development. During 2017, direct employment created by tourism was 21.5 million. Besides, tourism also promotes national integration, international understanding and supports local handicrafts and cultural activities. During 2017, the number of foreign tourists that visited India was 11.23 million India’s share in world tour market is just 1.75 percent. With this meager share, foreign exchange earned is Rs.32000 crores. Domestic tourists Visits are 120 million  To promote domestic tourism, thrust areas identified by Government of India are development of infrastructure, product development and diversification, development of eco-adventure sports, cultural presentations, providing inexpensive accommodation, streamlining facilitation procedures at airports, human resource development, creating awareness and public participation and facilitation of private sector participation.

Some of the important advantages of Agri – Tourism are:

  1. It brings major primary sector agriculture closer to major service sector tourism. This convergence is expected to create win-win situation for both the sectors.
  2. Tourism sector has potential to enlarge.
  3. Agriculture sector has the capacity to absorb expansion in tourism Sector.

SCOPE OF AGRI – TOURISM IN INDIA

Agri-Tourism has great scope in the present context for the following reasons:

  1. An inexpensive gateway
  2. Curiosity about the farming industry and life style
  3. Strong demand for wholesome family oriented recreational
  4. Health consciousness of urban population and finding solace with nature friendly means.
  5. Desire for peace and tranquility
  6. Interest in natural environment
  7. Disillusionment with overcrowded resorts and cities
  8. Nostalgia for their roots on the farm
  9. Rural recreation
  10. Educational value of Agri-Tourism

BASIC PRINCIPLES OF AGRI – TOURISM

Agri – Tourism should ensure the following three basic principles.

  1. Have something for visitors to see
  2. Have something for visitors to do
  3. Have something for visitors to buy

THREE IMPORTANT FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE SUCCESS OF AGRI-TOURISM

  1. Farmer
  2. Village
  3. Agriculture

AGRI-TOURISM OPPORTUNITIES IN INDIA

  1. Indian tourism industry is growing @10.1%
  2. India has entered amongst the top 10 tourist destinations list (Conde Nast

Travellor – A leading European Travel Magazine)

  1. India has diverse culture and geography which provides ample and unlimited Scope for the growth of this business
  2. Increasing number of tourists preferring non-urban tourist spots
  3. Government initiatives and policies

ISSUES NEEDING ATTENTION FOR THE PROMOTION OF AGRI-TOURISM

  1. Publicity
  2. Transport
  3. Accommodation
  4. Networking
  5. Capacity building of farmers
  6. Safety of
  7. Public – Private partnership

UMBRELLA ORGANIZATION FOR AGRI TOURISM IN INDIA

AGRI TOURISM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION ATDC

ESTB in 2005 – ATDC owns the pilot Agri tourism project of 28 acres in Palshiwadi, Tal Baramati Dist Pune, 70 kms from Pune city. The main activities include operating its Agri tourism centre along with encouraging more farmers to take up Agri tourism, conducting training and research programs. ATDC only provides a helping hand. ATDC practices what is preached, by successfully operating its owned pilot Agri tourism project.

ATDC (Agri Tourism India)’s OBJECTIVES are

  1. To develop and promote agricultural tourism (Agri-tourism),through ATDC’s projects, training and support as a potential vehicle for diversifying and stabilizing rural economies.
  2. Creating jobs, increasing farming community income, providing a broader market base, opportunities for on-farm employment so they do not have to migrate to urban areas.
  3. Agri Tourism income to improve their livelihoods, traditional forms of art and music in rural areas 4.Increasing awareness of local agricultural products, enhancing understanding of the importance of maintaining agricultural lands there by strengthening the long term sustainability of small farms.

Some of the Successful Agri Tourism and Farm stays in India

  1. Dewalokam Farm Stay Kerala: Dewalokam is the organic ancestral farm. The name means “paradise”. This faultless farm stay is conveniently located only 90 minutes drive from Kochi airport, in the spice belt of Kerala, bounded by a tranquil river and nature reserve. Fruit, vegetables, spices, milk, and honey are all produced there. An extensive range of activities is available for guests, including spice walks, village walks, bamboo rafting, temple visits, and cow milking. Or, simply chill in a hammock!  Yoga, Ayurveda, and cooking holidays are also offered. The main guesthouse has eight spacious air-conditioned rooms overlooking the river and forest.
  2. Vanilla County Kottyam Kerala: Vanilla County consists of a 60 year old heritage bungalow on a 150 acre organic rubber and spice plantation. It’s located a bit over 2 hours drive from Kochi airport. Guests can swim in natural rock pools, go on plantation walks, go trekking, birding, visit villages and a local meditation ashram, and cruise theKerala backwaters. Accommodations are providing in the main bungalow and in luxury Swiss tents with attached bathrooms.
  3. Maachli Farm Stay, Maharashtra: Maachli is a divine farm stay, situated in Parule village on the far southKonkan Coast of Maharashtra. The closest beaches are Bhogwe and Tarkarli. The name “Maachli” means “elevated huts” in the local Malvani language. The four attractive hut-style accommodations are built deep within nature amongst the Samant family’s coconut, betel nut, banana and spice plantation. Everything revolves around nature, and there is a sweet water stream flowing through the property.  Responsible tourism is also a strong focus. Activities include village walks, cooking lessons, farming experiences, trekking
  4. Dwarka Farm Stay, Sindhudurg, Maharashtra: the farms stay on a 15 acre orchard, also in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district. It’s located in Sawantwadi, approximately 30 minutes drive inland from unspoilt Vengurla beach. Mangoes, coconuts, cashews, and fruit are grown there. There’s also a dairy on the property. Interesting activities are offered, such as a visit to a pottery village, bamboo workshop, and mat weaving. Various local sightseeing tours are arranged as well. The traditional Malvani cuisine served using farm-fresh ingredients is a highlight. There’s also a swimming pool. The farm stay has nine double guest rooms, and a family room for a minimum of six people
  5. Dudhsagar Plantation and Farm Stay Goa: located at the foothills of the Western Ghat mountains in sedate south Goa. The farm was started in 1985 and has a vast variety of organic fruit trees, spices, medicinal plants, herbs and flowers. Free range chicken and dairy farming is also carried out there. Jeep rides to remote Dudhsagar waterfall start 15 minutes from the property. To get to the bottom of the waterfall, it’s a one hour drive followed by a 10 minute hike through dense terrain. The farm stay has two basic but clean and cozy cottages, both with lovely verandas, in the midst of a tropical palm garden.
  6. Destiny Farm Stay OOTY, Tamilnadu: This farm stay is secluded away around 25 kilometers from thepopular hill station of Ooty. It has a stable full of horses, cows, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs and geese. And, of course, farm dogs to watch over them. A huge range of produce is grown on the farm, including coffee, spices, fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. For the adults, there’s a luxury spa, perfect for pampering and unwinding.
  7. Acres Wild Cheese making Farm stay, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu: 22 acre farm stay dedicated to organic cheese-making and holistic, self-sustaining living. The farm has cows to provide the milk for its gourmet cheeses, and organic vegetables are grown as well. Guests can participate in a two day cheese-making course
  8. Green Dreams Farms, Coorg Karnataka: In Karnataka’sCoorgcoffee region, Green Dreams strategically nestled between rolling hills and fertile flat lands. This farm stay belongs to a local coffee connoisseur and trader, and he’ll take you on an insightful plantation tour (fruit, vegetables and commercial crops such as pepper and cardamom are also grown).There are swings, hammocks, and bicycles
  9. Citrus County, Hosiarpur Punjab: Citrus County is one of the biggest success stories where farm stays in Punjab are concerned. It’s located on the way toAmritsar, The farm stay been really well developed and includes a swimming pool, cafe, and bar. As its name suggests, citrus fruit is farmed there in a 70 acre orchard. Guests can go fruit picking, explore local villages, visit a dairy farm, and learn how to cook Punjabi food.
  10. Prakriti Farms, Rupnagar, Punjab: Prakriti Farms is a non-profit organic farm, located around an hour from Chandigarh, in Punjab. It has a much more rustic feel. The owners, alarmed by the surrounding disrespect for nature, are slowly recreating an ecological environment on the land inherited from their ancestors.
  11. Tathagata Farms, Darjeeling West Bengal: The tantalizing Tathagata Farm offers an opportunity to get back to nature on a tea estate up in the hills, 45 minutes fromDarjeeling. In addition tea, the farm grows cardamom, ginger, vegetables, oranges and other crops.  Possible activities include plantation tours, trekking, nature trails and guided walks, fishing, picnicking and birding.
  12. The Goat Village, Garwahal District Uttarakhand: As its apt name suggests, there are goats roaming around everywhere in this pristine village! Set up byGreen People as an initiative to augment local income and increase markets for organically-farmed products, The Goat Village offers purpose-built cottage accommodations with private bathrooms for guests. It’s essentially run as a home stay, with villagers providing hospitality and cooking delicious regional cuisine. In addition to exploring the local way of life, guests can trek to nearby Nag Tibba Mountain and go camping. Reaching the village requires a trek of about an hour.
  13. The Country Retreat, Pali Rajasthan: The Country Retreat is a new boutique farm stay, situated in Rajasthan’s rural Pali district, halfway betweenJodhpur and Udaipur.The property comprises 130 acres of farmland and the owner has vast agricultural knowledge.  Popular activities on offer include bird watching, animal herding, cycling, photography, farm tours, farm activities, and complimentary Rajasthani cooking lessons. There are three air-conditioned bedrooms, attractively refurbished and decorated with regal touches.
  14. Banyan Tree Farm Stay, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu: Banyan Tree Farm stay remotely hidden in the lush hinterland at the foothills of Western Ghats Mountains in Tamil Nadu. The property is around 2 hours drive from Coimbatore city.  At 4,500 acres, it’s substantially sized, and even has a private waterfall and canal. Coconuts and cocoa are mainly grown there, along with some spices and fruit. The area is particularly good for bird watching. Other activities include plantation tours, nature walks, fishing, jeep safaris, cycling, tribal village visits, and cooking lessons.
  15. Mepra: The Hidden Roots, Kuttanad District, Kerala: This 500 year old farm is made up of a beautifully furnished heritage house, a fish farm, duck farm, gardens rich in Ayurvedic herbs, and rice, pepper, kokum, banana, and coconut plantations. The property is located in what’s known as the “rice bowl region of Kerala”, 45 minutes from Alleppey, an hour from Kumarakom, and a bit over 2 hours from Kochi airport. Activities include boating, fishing, village walks, temple and church visits, and Ayurvedic massages.
  16. Baramati Agri Tourism Center, Maharashtra: situated in the location of traditional draught prone area on Pune District of Maharashtra, 27 acre pure Agriculture farm, grows traditional crops like sorgan, bajara, and other millets, guests here can participate in farm work, wash the cows and buffalos, visit nearby jiggery making unit and sugar making factory, go for village tour witnessing local artisans and women self help groups products, major festivals : kite flying festival  , farm marathon  are organized annually to conserve the culture of the village there by conserving , culture , environment and  giving sustainable livelihood to the local villagers.
  17. Bhavani retreat , Vadali Dist Sabarkantha , Gujarat : The retreat farm stay is herbal concept , the farm has variety of herbal plantation and gardens , herbal rooms and made up of cow dung , organic vegetables  are used for meals , bird watching , and village tour, horse riding and many religious temples and forts  are main attraction at Bhavani retreat at Gujarat

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