Agro & Rural Development Forum of Vidarbha Industries Association organised a session on “Agritourism – Emerging opportunities for farmers to become Atma-nirbhar” recently on zoom.
Prashant Sawai, Dy Director of Tourism Nagpur Division conducted the first Session on “Agritourism Policy.” He said Agritourism is a form of alternative to mass tourism based on sustainability, preservation of culture, heritage and traditions in rural areas. It comprises all forms of tourism in which tourists visit farms, eventually stay in them, and experience farming and various forms. Agritourism aims bringing the visitor in touch with the natural environment, agricultural activities, local products, and a community’s lifestyle, while at the same time contributing to the host area economic stability.
He said Maharashtra State is the pioneer state to develop and promote Agri Tourism in the country. Agri tourism model gives the authentic experiences to the visitors by showcasing village culture, agriculture, traditions that has helped gain sustainable supplementary income source and generated local employment. He elaborate the concept of Agri tourism is very simple, whereby the urban tourists go the farmers home; stay like a farmer, engage in farming activities, etc. This created a win-win situation for not only the farmers or the tourists but also for the Government. Not only was the farmer happy to stay in the farm and the tourist satisfied to buy farm fresh produce, but the Government accepted us with open arms. He also elaborated on documentation parts, Govt schemes for Agritourism, online procedures, benefits/opportunities to famers, requirement of food licences, etc.
He also cited examples and shared success stories of Nagpur based “Agritourism” viz. Amazing Jungle Agri Tourism Center; Gramin Agri Tourism Center; Jangal Safari Agri Tourism; Krushimitra Agri Tourism Center; Mahajan Wawar Agri Tourism Centre; Sai Carnations Farm Agri Tourism Center.
Vivek Surayawanshi, Owner of Thakurwadi Agriculture & Eco Tourisms conducted the second session on “Agritourism : A Viable Alternative for Vidarbha Farmers.” He emphasized the potentials of Agri-Tourism in Vidarbha. He said there are as many as seven Wildlife Reserves in our Vidarbha region; many Heritage Sites, Water bodies (Rivers/ Dams), Hill Stations and easy connectivity to this. He further explained as why a farmer should get into the tourism business? He said that it augments the farm income, safeguards oneself from crop failures; it provides a platform to sell the farm produce to customers directly and it also helps in sustenance in farming. The major takeaways for a customer are to get the memorable experience by being in the midst of nature. The visit will help the customer to understand many new things. It’s a place for merry making with friends. The customer gets to taste the local cuisine.
He said the benefits of Agriculture Tourism for urban footfall in rural areas, creating jobs, increasing farming community income, providing a broader market base; incentive to make value added products; diversify the crop pattern; reverse the migration and stop urban influx; greater emphasis on water conservation and Cluster development gets a boost. Agri Tourism enhances the farm income, generates livelihood, he opined.
R B Goenka, Vice President of VIA shared a presentation on Goenka Farm & Agri Tourism. He said Goenka Farm, 50 acres of agricultural land situated in Mahalgao, Nagpur. He further said a place with many facilities like dairy farm, lavish green lawn, fruit gardens, boating, adventure park, train ride, playstation for kids, outdoor games, stay facility and many more. He emphasised about water harvesting, drip irrigation as well as the importance of rain water collection in ponds.
Earlier, Om Jajodia, Chairman of VIA Agro & Rural Development Forum welcomed the guest speakers and in his welcome address said the session is organised to increase awareness of local agricultural products, protect environment for healthy living, enhancing understanding of the importance of maintaining agricultural lands there by strengthening the long term sustainability of small farms. Shachi Mallick, Convener of the Forum made an opening remark. Kirty Sirothia, Project Incharge introduced the guest speakers and also conducted the proceedings. Prof Ashit Sinha, Mentor of the forum summed up the session and said this an unique opportunity for farmers to convert their agri farm to Agritourism, which supports to supplement the farmers’ income and also proposed a formal vote of thanks.
Chandrashekhar Bhadsale, father of Agritourism has coined the term “Krishi Paryatan.” More than 80 participants joined from Australia as well as all over India, in states like Gujarat, Lucknow, Western Maharashtra, experts from Agriculture & veterinary along with farmers, budding agri entrepreneurs and students added in large numbers.