• Agri Tourism is when a native person or local of the area offers tours to their Agriculture Farm to allow a person to view them growing, harvesting, and processing locally grown foods, such as coconuts, pineapple, sugar cane, corn, or any produce the person would not encounter in their home country. Often the farmers would provide a home-stay opportunity and education
• In general, Agri-Tourism is the practice of attracting travelers or visitors to an area or areas used primarily for agricultural purposes.However, Agri-Tourism is small-scale, low-impact, and, in most cases, education-focused. Many agri-tourism activities require only a small farm crew in order to be successful. For instance, farm tours, bed and breakfasts, tractor / bullock cart rides, grapes, mangoes, and other horticulture farms, by product farms, birds / animal zoos, and many other activities may be operated with little additional investment in labor.
BASIC PRINCIPLES OF AGRI – TOURISM
Agri - Tourism should ensure the following three basic principles.
• Have something for visitors to see - Animals, birds, farms and nature are few things which agri-tourism could offer to the tourist. Apart from these, culture, dress, festivals and rural games could create enough interest among visitors in Agri-Tourism.
• Have something for visitors to do - Participating in agricultural operations,swimming, bullock cart riding, camel riding, buffalo riding, cooking and participating in the rural games are few activities to quote in which tourists can take part and enjoy.
• Have something for visitors to buy - Rural crafts, dress materials, fresh agriculture products, processed foods are the few items which tourist can buy as memento for remembrance.
ADVANTAGES OF AGRI – TOURISM:
• 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.
• Tourism sector has potential to enlarge.
• Agriculture sector has the capacity to absorb expansion in tourism sector
SCOPE OF AGRI-TOURISM
Agri-Tourism has great scope in the present context for the following reasons:
• An inexpensive gateway - The cost of food, accommodation, recreation and travel is least in Agri-Tourism. This widens the tourist base. Present concept of travel and tourism is limited to urban and rich class which constitutes only a small portion of the population. However, the concept of Agri-Tourism takes travel and tourism to the larger population, widening the scope of tourism due to its cost effectiveness.
• Curiosity about the farming industry and life style - The urban population having roots in villages always have had the curiosity to learn about sources of food, plants, animals, raw materials like wood, handicrafts, languages, culture, tradition, dresses and rural lifestyle. Agri-Tourism which revolves around farmers, villages and agriculture has the capacity to satisfy the curiosity of this segment of population.
• Strong demand for wholesome family oriented recreational activities-Villages provide recreational opportunities to all age groups i.e. children, young, middle and old age, male, female, in total to the whole family at a cheaper cost. Rural games, festivals, food, dress and the nature provides variety of entertainment to the entire family.
• Health consciousness of urban population and finding solace with nature friendly means - Modern lifestyle has made life stressful and average life span has comedown. Hence, people are in constant search of pro-nature means to make life more peaceful. Ayurveda which is a pro-nature medical approach has roots in villages. Indigenous medical knowledge of villagers is respected. Organic foods are in greater demand in urban areas and foreign countries. In total, health conscious urban population is looking towards pro nature villages for solutions.
• Desire for peace and tranquility - Modern life is a product of diversified thinking and diversified activities. Every individual attempts to work more, in different directions to earn more money to enjoy modern comforts. Hence, peace is always out of his system. Tourism is a means for searching peaceful location. Peace and tranquility are inbuilt in Agri-Tourism as it is away from urban areas and close to nature.
• Interest in natural environment - Busy urban population is leaning towards nature because natural environment is always away from busy life. Birds, animals, crops, mountains, water bodies, villages provide totally different atmosphere to urban population in which they can forget their busy urban life.
• Disillusionment with over crowded resorts and cities - In resorts and cities, over crowded peace seekers disturb each others peace. Hence, peace is beyond cities and resorts. Even though efforts are made to create village atmosphere in the sub urban areas through resorts, farm houses, it looks like a distant replica of the original.
• Nostalgia for their roots on the farm- Cities are growing at the cost of villages. Villagers are migrating to cities in search of jobs and to seek the comforts of modern life. Hence, yesterday’s villagers are today’s urbanites. Deep in the heart of urbanites lies the love and respect for their ancestors and villages. Hence, visit to villages satisfies their desire. This is also expressed through the hatred of urbanites to flat culture and love for farmhouses located in the outskirts of cities. Any opportunity to visit villages and spend time with family is dream of any urbanite. But, minimum decent facilities are always problem. Agri-Tourism attempts to overcome this problem.
• Rural recreation - Villages provide variety of recreation to urbanites through festivals and handicrafts. Villager’s (farmer’s) lifestyle, dress, languages, culture / traditions which always add value to the entertainment. Agricultural environment around farmers and the entire production process could create curiosity among urban taught. Places of agricultural importance like highest crop yielding farm, highest animal yielding farm, processing units, farms where innovations tried add attraction to the tourists. Agricultural products like farm gate fresh market, processed foods, organic food could lure the urban tourists. As result of this agri – atmosphere in the villages, there is scope to develop Agri – Tourism products like agri-shopping, culinary tourism, pick and own your tree / plot, bed and breakfast, pick and pay, bullock cart riding, camel riding, boating, fishing, herbal walk, rural games and health (ayurvedic) tourism.
• Educational value of Agri-Tourism – Agri-Tourism could create awareness about rural life and knowledge about agriculture science among urban school children. It provides a best alternative for school picnics which are urban based. It provides opportunity for hands on experience for urban college students in agriculture. It is a means for providing training to future farmers. It would be effectively used as educational and training tool to train agriculture and line department officers. This provides unique opportunity for education through recreation where learning is fun effective and easy. Seeing is believing, doing is learning. This experience based concept is the USP of Agri- Tourism.
ELEMENTS OF AGRI-TOURISM
• Farmer – In majority of the cases, farmers are less educated, less exposed and innocent. For a farmer, any outsider is a guest and is treated wholeheartedly without any commercial motive. Treating guests is pleasure for the villagers than pain. The farmer entertains the guest while entertaining himself in the process. He is not like an exploitative natured businessman which itself facilitate a clean tourism atmosphere.
• Village – Villages, located far from the city lack urban facilities, but are blessed with natural resources. Investments are made by nature in the form of water bodies, fields, forest, mountains, deserts and islands. The community structure is more homogenous and treating guests is part of the culture rather than a professional activity leading to natural environment required for such form of tourism.
• Agriculture – Rich resources in agriculture namely land, water and plants are unique from place to place bringing diversity and creating curiosity. Each field is unique which adds to the attraction of tourists. The way of cultivation and the products are great attraction to the urban population. Indigenous knowledge of rural people is a wealth, which adds to the novelty and the curiosity of urban population. Combination of farmer, village and agriculture creates a wonderful situation which provides unlimited satisfaction to the tourist especially from urban areas.
AGRI-TOURISM OPPORTUNITIES IN INDIA
• Indian tourism industry is growing @10.1% - The World Tourism organization has estimated that the tourism industry is growing at the rate of 4% a year and that by the year 2010 there will be more than one billion tourists visiting various parts of the world. But the Indian tourism industry is growing at the rate of 10% which is 2½ times more that the growth rate at global level. By introducing Agri-Tourism concept, not only present growth rate is sustained but also this value addition contributes to further growth.
• India has entered amongst the top 10 tourist destinations list (Conde Nast Travellor – A leading European Travel Magazine) - India is already established
• as one of the top tourist destination in the world. Value addition by introducing novel products like Agri-tourism would only strengthen the competitiveness of Indian tourism industry in global market.
• India has diverse culture and geography which provides ample and unlimited scope for the growth of this business. India has diverse Agro-climatic conditions, diverse crops, people, culture, deserts, mountains, coastal systems and islands which provides scope for promotion of all season, multi location tourism products.
• Increasing number of tourists preferring non-urban tourist spots (financial express). Hence, there is scope for promotion of non-urban tourist spots in interior villages by establishing Agri-tourism centres. But, adequate facilities and publicity are must to promote such centres.
• Government initiatives and policies in Xth five year plan allocation has been increased from 525 crore to 2,900 crores. Increased financial allocation reaffirms the government commitment. The increased financial allocation by six times could be used for capacity building of service providers, creation of infrastructure and publicity.