Agro-Tourism enterprise is one of the major themes promoted by the Agro-Tourism Association (ATA). Unlike in many states in developed countries such as the USA, China, Europe, Uganda, and Africa, Agro-Tourism is still relatively a new enterprise despite its huge potential for the social and economic transformation of the populace.
Tourism is the basis of economic and cultural development. It was after the mid-twenties’ that it started to grow progressively, becoming one of the major sectors in the world economy. Currently, Tourism does not only include game parks, historical sites, lakes, and rivers, but also farming enterprises, agro-processing centers, agricultural practices, local products, traditional food and the daily life of the rural people and farmers, as well as the cultural elements and traditions – referred to as Agro-Tourism (Ruhakana, 2015). It’s a hybrid concept that merges elements of two complex industries – Agriculture and Tourism, to open up new profitable markets for farm products and services and provide travel experiences.
The potential benefits of Agro-Tourism are varied; firstly, it’s an excellent tool to educate the public about the agribusiness and environment and their contributions to the economy. Secondly, it provides much-needed employment, especially for the youth populace, generates diversification opportunities for farmers to increase revenues, and enhance the viability of their farming operations. Thirdly, it enhances the demand for community products, fosters agricultural marketing, and creates value-added and direct-marketing opportunities
Basic principles of Agro-Tourism.
As an Agripreneur, if you decide to start an Agro-Tourism enterprise, it is important to know about the types of agrotourism farms. Then you can decide the most suitable type depending on your capabilities and business requirements. Do you want to convert an existing farm into an Agro-Tourism, or do you want to establish a new Agro-Tourism farm? All in all, you need to bear in mind the following 3 basic principles
Have something for Agro-Tourists to See.
We ensure that where we are taking visitors has got something in the line with agriculture for the agro-tourists or visitors to See. Below are some of the summarized things to see at an Agro-Tourist centers
Farm Tours. Farm tours are organized as educational tours using cropping systems and patterns and livestock as the main attraction. The aim of this farm tour is to make awareness among the visitors about the different types of crops and cultivation practices, harvesting methods, and many more different types of farm animals and animal husbandry methods as well the plight of the family farmer and create a positive image of agriculture within the visitors. Especially farm tours for school children can be organized as a concept of “Agricultural Rebranding” where school children obtain knowledge on real farm life.
Historical Re-creations. Agro-Tourism attractions on your farm can be created by displaying real or models of traditional agricultural implements, techniques, and technologies. Some attractions grow out of the owners’ hobby collections—old farm machinery and equipment, seeds of traditional crop varieties, traditional and environmentally friendly farm buildings, transportation modes, and photographs of old and traditional farming techniques and systems.
Processing Demonstrations. Agro-Tourists like to see food processing on your farm such as milling, yogurt and cheese production, homemade juice, baked products, and wine processing, among others. Our members are encouraged and supported to make it more attractive by including processing methods and techniques with an old timely flavor that is healthier and environmentally friendly.
Crop art and Crop landscaping. Organize the farm with attractive landscaping with crops and design crop arts. Most crop art consists of various designs of horticultural and grain crops (eg: maize, paddy) in a field and designs created by different colored plantings. Such crop art is best viewed from the air or from a raised structure. There have also been proposals for creating mounds-like structures outlined in edible native plants. Also, a model home garden can be prepared and it will be attracted both urban and suburban visitors. There are professional crop artists/crop landscapers and it is wise to get consultancies from such professionals, in planning and building crop art in your farm. An example of crop art is the “veggie salad” concept, a subspecies of crop art. With this concept, a section of the farm is designed as an artful veggie salad and a field is organized in a circular arrangement of vegetable crops. Pie-shaped wedges of cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, and other crops that represent veggie salad ingredients are planted. This is reportedly one of the fastest-growing types of crop art. Models of urban agriculture, water features with water plants and fish, paths that are covered with arches with various types of vines (fruits, vegetables, and herbs), model herbal gardens are different types of crop arts that can attract visitors both adults and children.
Natural features. An outstanding natural feature on a farm may become a tourist attraction—a waterfall, a jungle, a stream, or a spectacular view of mountains. Water is a popular natural attraction; sometimes natural features of interest to a visitor may have been overlooked by the farmer.
Petting zoos. One of the very best things you can organize on a farm for agritourism promotion is to have farm animals and pets of all different kinds. The especially petting zoo on a farm is attractive to children. There are many animal friends you can have in the petting zoo, including ponies, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, and many more… Children can feed the animals, too. They love that. The petting zoo is free for the children, but you can have a sales outlet to sell feeds for the animals which will give you an income and free food for your animals.
Have something for Agro-Tourists to do.
Participating in agricultural operations and activities during the agro-visits is always a must.
Educational activities. The educational activities offered on farms range from half-day classes or short-term workshops to full-scale, accredited courses of study. Farm schools accommodate interns or apprentices and charge tuition for the learning opportunity. Some farms offer classes in cooking, arranging flowers, or making herbal medicines. They depend on these activities to help build a clientele for their main products. Farms have traditionally offered field days, sometimes sponsored by a farm organization or provincial government. Many farm tours are also considered an educational activity. Most of these farm tours are guided by an expert on the farm and what they describe and explain is an education on the farm. Children like to involve in various farming activities starting from nursery preparation to harvesting.
Pickups (Pick U own). A U-pick or pick-your-own farm is a type of farm where visitors are allowed to harvest their own produce. Generally, u pickups are practiced with vegetables, fruits, and flowers. Visitors to do the milking at the dairy farms are also considered as a type of u pickup. Since visitors are allowed to eat while picking, an entry fee usually covers any produce customers may eat. Despite this, the produce at U-pick farms often costs lower since the cost of hiring farmers to harvest the produce is precluded. Pick-your-own (PYO) or U-pick operations are a type of direct marketing system where visitors harvest fruits, vegetables, and flowers by themselves. U-pick is often preferred by visitors who like to select fresher, higher quality, vine-ripened produce at reasonable prices. Also, many visitors enjoy picking produce themselves as a recreational event or outing. U pickups also can serve as an additional selling method for producers who use other direct and non-direct marketing alternatives. If you allow PYOs on your farm you have to have a well-organized farm with signboards to show the crops and information on cultivation and to show the directions, one or two workers to guide the visitors and facilities to purchase the picked products.
Petting zoos/children’s enjoyments/pony horse riding, etc. Rabbits, ducks, lambs, baby goats, calves, and piglets are certain attractions for both city children and their parents. Pony and bullock cart rides are part of the mix.
BBQ by own. You can make available visitors to prepare their own BBQ at the farm under a tree or close to a bush. Therapy If there is a stream or large pond available on the farm you can organize fish therapy and it will be a very good activity. Also, you can organize paths where visitors can get foot therapy. Apart from these different kinds of herbal medicinal therapy can be introduced
Have something for Agro-Tourists to buy.
As a principle, wherever we take agro-tourists, there is always something for visitors to buy.
Food and Beverages. We encourage our members to organize a restaurant on their farm where they can sell cooked foods and drinks from farm products. Fresh fruit drinks and herbal drinks both hot and cold are good options. However, we don’t allow site owners to sell factory-made artificial drinks and foods. Fresh milk and milk products are preferred by both children and their parents. Homemade ice cream and sweets, sandwiches, fresh fruit, barbecue, and roasting fish are all possibilities for ready-to-eat food sales
Gifts and souvenirs. You can have a gift and souvenir shop at the restaurant premises. It is important to have your gift items represent your farm, something that is actually produced locally. Stick to a theme, something that truly represents the uniqueness of your farm and your region. T-shirts, pens, mugs, caps and hats, processed food bottles, wood carvings, pottery, and decorative items such as fresh and dried flowers and hand-loomed cloths are examples of gifts and souvenirs
Fresh and processed food and drink stuff. Agro-Tourists prefer fresh products such as eggs, milk, fruits, processed farm products, etc. and many other farm products are always available for agro-tourists to buy. Some site owners are encouraged and supported to produce organic foods and drinks for agro-tourists to buy.