Agri-Tourism and rural tourism have been witnessing growing interest from travellers in Maharashtra. Nowadays, more and more travellers are seeking environment-friendly tourism.
On 14th World Agri Tourism Day, Department of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra will hold International Conference on Agri Tourism on 15th and 16th of May’2021. The two-day interactive sessions with various Stakeholders of Agri-tourism, farm tourism in India and from across the World, will focus on empowering and encouraging the Rural Women farming community to embrace new opportunities in the realm of agri-tourism.
Recognizing the potential of these sectors, Maharashtra Government has been taking ground-breaking initiatives to promote them. Maharashtra has been at the forefront of implementing and promoting agri-Tourism, rural tourism and sustainable tourism in the country.
One of the recent key initiatives undertaken by the state govt., includes the implementation of the agri-tourism policy. The policy underlines the importance of Agri-Tourism initiatives for sustaining rural economic development as it allows farmers to diversify their income, regenerate communities, encourage agriculture-related businesses, and provide employment to young women based in rural areas.
The state also believes that agri-tourism is a way of sustainable tourist development in rural areas as it provides opportunity to the tourists to get familiar with agricultural areas, agricultural practices, farm produce and gain an insight into the lifestyle of the farmers, as well as the cultural features and traditions. It also brings tourists closer to nature and allows them to get hands-on experience with various farming activities.
Commenting on the implementation of the agri-tourism policy in the state, Pandurang Taware, Founder, Agri Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC), said, “The policy has been instrumental in developing agri-tourism in the State as it has provided a clear, well-defined roadmap to the farmers who are looking to venture into agri-tourism. Incentives such as Non-Requirement of agriculture certificate and mandatory educational tours of agri-tourism sites by schools for their students, will further spur the development of the agri-tourism market”.
Maharashtra started the Pilot Project of agri-tourism in a village of Baramati district by ATDC under the supervision of Taware in 2005. In 2007, ATDC launched Training and skills development programs with Maharashtra State Agri Tourism Vistar Yojana through Agri-Tourism centers.
Currently there are 328 agri-tourism centers across 29 districts in Maharashtra including Pune, Aurangabad, villages near Nagpur and tribal belt of Thane district. Since its inception, farmers across the state have gained a 25% growth in their incomes.
Theses agri-tourism centres recorded 4.7 lakhs, 5.3 lakhs, 7.9 lakhs tourists visit in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively, which helped the farmers to generate cumulative revenue/income of Rs 55.79 crore. Besides, the agri-tourism initiative helped create more than 1 lakh jobs for women and youth in the rural areas.
Several instances in the districts like Raigad, Pune and Satara have proved that Agri-tourism not only positively impacts farmers’ lives but also to the whole village from social and economic perspective.
Speaking on the importance of agri-tourism, Dhananjay Sawalkar, Director of Directorate of Tourism, Maharashtra said, “Agri-tourism is an emerging concept and has multiplier effect on rural economies. The linkage between agriculture and tourism will not only generate new economic opportunities but also support the sustainable development of rural areas.”
In India, Agri Tourism is a subset of Rural Tourism. Rural Tourism is multifaceted and may entail farm/agricultural tourism, cultural tourism, nature tourism, adventure tourism and ecotourism. The State has also been promoting Rural Tourism as it has a positive direct impact on rural development.