MUMBAI: The State government on Monday, May 15 said that it wants to focus on agri-tourism so that it can give sustainable livelihood, employment and income to the farming community while increasing investment in the agricultural sector.
Inaugurating a day-long national Agri Tourism Conference organised by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), Jaykumar Rawal, Minister of Tourism said, “People used to rush to visit countries like Europe, rather than exploring their own country. However, things have changed and people are now opting to visit villages and learn about farm life.” reports The Hindu.
Mr. Rawal said he would be taking up the issue of starting a special policy for agri-tourism in Maharashtra with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The Maharashtra Agri-Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) was established in 2005 seeking to provide urban tourists with farming experiences by engaging them in farming. Maharashtra is a pioneer State in promoting agricultural tourism with its 328 agri tourism centres, in 33 districts from Kolhapur to Nagpur and from Alibaug to Solapur. These agricultural tourism activities have generated more than ₹50 crore in income for the farming community who have hosted over 21 lakh tourists in the last three years.
Mahadev Jankar, State Minister for Animal husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries Development said, “Agri-tourism needs to be given a boost by announcing a different agricultural tourism policy in Maharashtra. Farmers should not just be limited to farming. Natural calamities can destroy their land. Farmers need to be equipped with additional skills.”
Mr. Pravin Kotkar, a farmer who started agri-tourism in 2009 and now runs two agri-resorts at Shahpur and Nerul, near Matheran told The Hindu, “We serve families across the globe. We are happy and so are the families that visit us. On an annual basis we have 1 lakh tourists visiting their resorts. The facilities available are a bullock cart ride, swimming pool, tractor ride and more.”
Dr. Avinash Bhake, Professor in an engineering college in Nagpur has an agri-tourism centre, Gramin, 25 kilometres from Nagpur. “I believe that we need to have a certain procedure, regarding the establishing of agri-tourism centres. A farmer who owns five acres of land will find it difficult to go forward with the procedure and may need government aid in terms of loans that could be repaid after a fixed period,” said Dr. Bhake