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Tourism In India
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<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>AGRO-TOURISM: GUESTS ARE WELCOME ON MY FARM! </b>
PRAKASH MAGDUM

Shri Chandrashekhar Bhadsavale lives in a village called Neral, famous as an entry point to Matheran hill station, in Raigad district of Maharashtra. He is a technocrat, who returned from USA and turned farmer, just because his freedom-fighter father wished so. It has been more than 25 years since he took to farming and in the process he has given a new dimension to agriculture in terms of agro-tourism.

While cultivating his land in a conventional manner, Shri Bhadsavale found the hard truth that it does not offer good economic returns. So he turned towards cash crops and a series of new ventures into horticulture, floriculture and organic farming made him help in establishing a permanent infrastructure on his farm. And  dawned on him the idea of agro-tourism!

Agro-tourism refers to the act of visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation for the purpose of enjoyment, education, or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation. It synergizes both agriculture and tourism capitalizing on their best practices. Not a new idea, since it is already in practice in developed countries, but Shri Bhadsavale has given it an Indian touch.

Agro-tourism makes possible for you to visit the village in your dreams. Though people from cities long for being closer to nature, not many of them can do so because of various reasons. The idea behind agro-tourism is to make available to them this opportunity on the basis of equality. Here, the farmer himself organizes a mix of education and entertainment on his farm for the tourists. It could be in the form of educational tours, weekly bazaars, agricultural heritage festivals, commodity festivals and lots of other activities related to agriculture and village life. Agricultural tourism takes many forms, it could be the drive-by where tourists can just drive in and spend some time and farm stays, wherein people come and stay on farm for several days. The tourists can get the experience of rural ambience and rural life. Farmers get a sense of satisfaction from providing these experiences and get remuneration in return along with self-respect. It facilitates an exchange of values between tourists and farming community.

The government also has realized the importance of agro-tourism. The Planning Commission of India had constituted a Working Group for the formulation of Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-2007) on Tourism. It has accorded high priority to tourism as an instrument of employment generation and poverty alleviation in rural and backward areas by developing the potential of (a) agro tourism to supplement farm incomes, and (b) heritage tourism to promote village development.

Shri Bhadsavale’s experience suggests that it doesn’t require fortune to set up such farm. It essentially preserves and showcases the rural life and all you need is to take care of your farm a little carefully to cater to needs of visitors. What you need is the will-power to take the initiative, desire to entertain guests and most important, a diversified agricultural farm. Roads could be the way they are and there could be no worries about telephone and power facilities! Involving tourists in the unique rural activities like drawing water from the well, milking the cow, venturing into cart-rides, visiting tree houses etc. are part of the agro-tourism concept and can also work as effective stress busters for the urban tourist.

He cultivates almost all horticultural crops including fruits and vegetables on his farms organically. Tourists are informed about various agricultural activities along with agricultural implements and shown different farming practices like harvesting and processing. A tour can be organized for visitors to nearby tourist and religious places. Shri Bhadsavale has implemented innovative ideas like buffalo ride in water, which has become quite popular amongst foreign tourists and college students! He provides them food which is made of from locally available vegetables and thus providing them regional flavour. If interested, fresh vegetables, locally made handicraft and handloom items as well as food items are sold to these visitors as momento to cherish the memories of time they spent on his farm.

Appropriate location of the farm is a must for agro-tourism to succeed. If the farm is on highway and within reach from city then it will attract the attention of visitors. People can drive down from their home at weekends and spend the time at farm and reach back to their places. Research is critical for success, it is not a matter of putting up the sign, printing the brochure and expecting tourists will come! One reason why visitors like to stay with hosts on their properties is that they have access to host’s knowledge of local area. It is often effective if a group of farms work together to develop farm stays. A critical mass helps with hosting larger groups!

He has also used the water bodies in the area to showcase the aqua-culture to tourists. By constructing a pond-house and making it available to tourists for stay has opened up another area of income generation for the nearby farmers. Effective utilization of water in this way also enhances the beauty of the entire area. The activities built around these water bodies like catching fish with family, showing them different varieties of live fish, etc. helps in sustaining tourist’s interest.

Shri Bhadsavale was awarded Jagjivan Ram Kisan Puraskar 2004 by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) for his innovative farming practices and for providing able leadership to the farming community in his vicinity. Every weekend nearly 30-40 tourists from nearby as well as far-flung areas throng his farm in order to experience rural life. This idea has now spread in other parts of Maharashtra as well and many farmers have started seeing it as income generation activity.

Today, there are closer links between agro-tourism and nature based or eco-tourism. Farms/regional centers offer outstanding scenery, national parks, nature reviews, wildlife, as well as heritage buildings. Sustainable habitat management is of increasing interest to a highly urbanized population and that’s why agro-tourism becomes important. Important for both such urbanized population and farmers. While recent National Sample Survey on Agriculture indicates the sad reality of younger generation being uninterested in taking up agriculture, agro-tourism could provide them an opportunity to turn back to their roots. And what could be the better way than this where you do your farming also and entertain guests as well!

http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=13322
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Tourism In India - by Guest - 11-14-2006, 12:01 AM
Tourism In India - by Guest - 11-23-2006, 01:49 AM
Tourism In India - by Guest - 01-05-2007, 09:02 PM
Tourism In India - by Guest - 03-21-2007, 09:30 AM
Tourism In India - by Guest - 04-06-2007, 05:55 AM
Tourism In India - by Guest - 02-15-2008, 11:14 PM
Tourism In India - by Capt M Kumar - 08-23-2008, 12:40 PM
Tourism In India - by priyarawat229 - 07-14-2012, 12:07 PM
Tourism In India - by rosstaylor2440 - 04-08-2013, 04:44 PM

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