Friday, 28 October 2011

Agro-tourism for agriculture development

Agri-tourism can be defined as any economic activity that takes place on a farm or a ranch for the purpose of enjoyment of the public, education, promotion of agricultural products and experiences or services which generate extra farm income. Agri-tourism takes place when farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists open farm gates to tourists. Agri-tourism therefore includes any agricultural operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or a ranch and it’s a good form of on-farm diversification which can help African small holder farmers and ranchers to improve their incomes and economic viability. 

Agri-tourism can be achieved by replacing or supplementing traditional farm operations with innovative on-farm / on-ranch alternative enterprises which can take various forms such as production of food, fiber, new or unique crops, livestock, or value addition to traditional agricultural products. The farm can also produce fun, recreation, nature-based, or educational products. They can operate on traditional farm practices or use alternative methods, such as organic systems. They can be resource intensive or low input investments. They can operate seasonally or throughout the year with a common theme of improving the farm income.

Agri-tourism is widespread in America and other developed countries where activities include picking fruits and vegetables, tasting honey, learning about wine and cheese making, participation in farm activities,  cooking classes, eating a meal , making overnight stays, riding horses  and farm produce stands. Visiting a farm, a ranch or winery offers unique experience. Agri-tourism is growing fast in the western countries as People are in search of new experiences and escape from the stress of traffic jams, office cubicles, while Parents want their children to have farm learning experience so as to know how food is grown, and that milk in reality comes from a cow and not from a carton! Families enjoy a drive to the country and spending time together.

Agri-tourism is a subset of a larger industry called rural tourism that includes resorts, agricultural tours, and other leisure and hospitality businesses that attract visitors to the rural areas and it is born out of the demand for the country way of life. One of the major considerations to make while entering into agri-tourism business is liability. In general, if you decide to impose a charge for any activity or services or goods purchased or consumed on your land, rented or leased, you are liable for any injury of visitors that may occur; therefore consult with your attorney and insurance company, to determine the amount of liability and insurance policy required to develop a risk management plan.