Saturday, 24 September 2011



                                                                          BHAVESH SUTHAR

Agriculture is backbone of Indian Economy. 85 percent of the population is directly or indirectly dependent on Agriculture where as 26 percent of GDP comes from Agriculture. 110 million farmers are dwelling in 6.25 lakh villages producing more than 200 MT of food grains feeding the country. More than profession, business, agriculture is culture. Hence, adding additional income generating activities to existing Agriculture would certainly increase contribution of Agriculture to national GDP. Serious efforts need to be made in this direction. Agriculture tourism is one such activity.

Tourism is termed as instrument for employment generation, poverty alleviation and sustainable human development. During 1999-2000, direct employment created by tourism is 15.5 millions. Besides, tourism also promotes national integration, international understanding and supports local handicrafts and cultural activities. During 2000, number of foreign tourists visited India is 26.41 lakhs. India’s share in world tour market is just 0.38 percent. With this meager share, foreign exchange earned is Rs.14,475 crores. Turnover in domestic tourism is much more than this. To promote domestic tourism, thrust areas identified by Government of India are development of infrastructure, product development and diversification, development of eco-adventure sports, cultural presentations, providing inexpensive accommodation, streamlining facilitation procedures at airports, human resource development, creating awareness and public participation and facilitation of private sector participation. In this process, important stakeholders are state and central department of tourism, Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management, Tourism Development Corporations, foreign embassies, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), Tourists, Transport Operators Association, Indian convention promotion bureau and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

Some issues which are to be learned for Agricultural marketing:
Ø Understand key marketing concepts such as competitive advantage and value chains, and how they can be applied to your farm operation
Ø Explore various marketing models and strategies, and gain an appreciation for the most appropriate approach for your farm business
Ø Gain an understanding of value-added and diversified agriculture as an entrepreneurial mechanism to expand into new ventures and enhance overall profitability
Ø Recognize niche marketing opportunities and brand management strategies for your products
Ø Learn product management strategies and how to bring consumers to the farm gate through direct marketing, Agriculture tourism, and E-marketing
Ø Perform market research and learn how to use market and consumer trends to expand your farm business

Marketing concepts and overview:
Ø  Describe the meaning of the marketing concept
Ø  Explain how to implement the marketing concept to agricultural production
Ø  Identify and assess the suitability of different kinds of markets
Ø  Discuss key concepts in contemporary marketing
Ø  Apply the necessary skills to gather and use current and potential market information

Niche vs Brand Marketing:
The focus of this is on how to add value to farm products via direct marketing, niche marketing and brand management. There will be many opportunities for you to apply the lessons learned to your own operation. how a value chain approach differs from a supply chain approach
Ø  Evaluate the relative merits of alternative approaches to agricultural marketing and their problems and issues
Ø  Calculate the risks and success factors of a value chain approach for your own operation
Ø  Assess your personal and business suitability for a value chain approach
Global Marketing:
Ø Describe the factors that drive and inhibit global economic development
Ø Use the Internet as a research and information tool to locate and bookmark important Internet sites for future reference
Ø Start to isolate global marketing opportunities for your own business
Ø Experience how global companies are using the Internet as a marketing tool to inform and promote their product(s) and service(s)
Ø Apply various assessment tools to evaluate your readiness to enter a new market

Promotion of Agriculture tourism involves some more important stakeholders namely Ministry of Agriculture and line departments at state and central governments and farmers. Promotion of Agriculture tourism needs conceptual convergence with Rural Tourism, Eco-Tourism, Health Tourism, Adventure Tourism and culinary adventures.
1)  It brings major primary sector Agriculture closer to major service sector tourism. This convergence is expected to create win-win situation for both the sectors.

2) Tourism sector has potential to enlarge.

3) Agriculture sector has the capacity to absorb expansion in Tourism Sector.

(1) An inexpensive gateway:- The cost of food, accommodation, recreation and travel is minimum in Agriculture tourism. This widens the tourist base. Present concept of travel and tourism is limited to urban and rich class which constitute only small portion of the population. However, the concept of Agriculture tourism takes travel and tourism to the larger population, widening the scope of tourism due to its cost effectiveness.

(2) Curiosity about the farming industry and life style:- The urban population basically which has roots in villages always has curiosity about sources of food, plants, animals, raw materials like wood, handicrafts, languages, culture, tradition, dresses and lifestyle. Agriculture tourism which revolves around the farmers, villages and agriculture has the capacity to satisfy the curiosity of this segment of population. Agriculture tourism provides scope for re-discoursing the rural life which is rich in diversity.

(3) Strong demand for wholesome family oriented recreational activities “ villages provide recreational opportunities to all age groups i.e. children young, middle and old age, male, female, in total to the whole family at cheaper cost. Rural games, festivals, food, dress and the nature provides variety of entertainment to the whole family.

(4) Health consciousness of urban population and finding solace with nature friendly means “ Modern lifestyle has made the life stressful and average life span has comedown. Hence, people are in constant search of pro-nature means to make life more peaceful. Ayurveda which is pro-nature medical approach has roots in villages. Indigenous medical knowledge of villagers is respected. Organic foods are in greater demand in urban areas and foreign countries. In total, health conscious urban population is looking towards pro-nature villages for solutions.

(5) Desire for peace and tranquility:- Modern life is the product of diversified thinking and diversified activities. Every individual attempts to work more, in different directions to earn more money to enjoy modern comforts. Hence, peace is always out of his system. Tourism is the means for searching peaceful location. Peace and tranquility are inbuilt in Agriculture tourism as it is away from urban areas and close to nature.

(6) Interest in natural environment - Busy urban population is leaning towards nature. Because, natural environment is always away from busy life. Birds, animals, crops, mountains, water bodies, villages provide totally different atmosphere to urban population in which they can forget their busy urban life.

(7)  Disillusionment with over crowded resorts and cities - In resorts and cities, over crowded peace seekers disturb each others peace. Hence, peace is beyond cities and resorts. Even though efforts are made to create village atmosphere in the sub urban areas through resorts, farm houses, it looks like a donkey painted with tiger colour. Artificiality is highlighted and not satisfying.

(8) Nostalgia for their roots on the farm “ Cities are growing at the cost of villages. Villagers are migrating to cities in search of jobs and seeking comforts of modern life. Hence, yesterday’s villagers are today’s urbanites. Deep in the heart of urbanites lies the love and respect for their ancestors and villages. Hence, visit to villages satisfies their desire. This is also expressed through the hatredness of urbanites to flat culture and love for farmhouses located in the outskirts of cities. Any opportunity to visit villages and spend time with family is dream of any urbanite. But, minimum decent facilities are always problem. Agriculture tourism attempts to overcome this problem.

(9) Rural recreation “ Villages provide varieties of recreation to urbanites through festivals and handicrafts. Villagers (farmers) lifestyle, dress, languages, culture / traditions which always add value to the entertainment. Agriculture environment around farmers and the entire production process could create curiosity among urban taught. Places of agriculture importance like highest crop yielding farm, highest animal yielding farm, processing units, farms where innovations tried add attraction to the tourists. Agriculture products like farm gate fresh market, processed foods, organic food could lure the urban tourists. As result of this Agri-atmosphere in the villages, there is scope to develop Agriculture tourism products like Agri-shopping, culinary tourism, pick and own your tree / plot, bed and breakfast, pick and pay, bullock cart riding, camel riding, boating, fishing, herbal walk, rural games and health (Ayurvedic) tourism.

(10) Educational value of Agriculture tourism:- Agriculture tourism could create awareness about rural life and knowledge about agriculture science among urban school childrens. It provides a best alternative for school picnics which are urban based. It provides opportunity for hands on experience for urban college students in Agriculture. It is a means for providing training to future farmers. It would be effectively used as educational and training tool to train agriculture and line department officers. This provides unique opportunity for education through recreation where learning is fun effective and easy. Seeing is believing, doing is learning and most importantly experiences are USP of Agriculture tourism.

Basic principles of Agriculture tourism:
1. Have something for visitors to see:- Animals, birds, farms and nature are the few things which Agriculture tourism could offer to the tourist to see. Apart from these, culture, dress, festivals and rural games could create enough interest among forest in Agriculture tourism.
2. Have something for visitors to do:- Participating in agricultural operations and swimming, bullock cart riding, camel riding, buffalo riding, cooking and participating in the rural games are the few activities to quote in which tourist can take part and enjoy.
3. Have something for visitors to buy:- Rural crafts, dress materials, farm gate fresh agriculture products, processed foods are the few items which tourist can buy as memento for remembrance.

Three important factors of Agriculture tourism:

1. Farmer: Majority of the cases, farmer is less educated, less exposed and innocent. For farmer, any outsider is a guest and treated wholeheartedly without any commercial motive. Treating guest is pleasure for them than pain. He entertains the guest while entertaining himself in the process. He is not like an exploitative natured businessman which itself facilitate a clean tourism atmosphere

2. Village : Village, which is located far from the city lacks urban facilities, but blessed with natural resources. The investment is made by nature in the form of water bodies, fields, forest, mountains, deserts and islands. Community is more homogenous and treating a guest is part of their culture rather than a profession leading to natural environment required for urban tourist.

3. Agriculture : Rich resources in agriculture namely land, water and plants are unique from place to place bringing diversity and creating curiosity. Each field is unique which adds to the attraction of tourists. The way of cultivation and the products are great attraction to the urban population. Indigenous knowledge of rural people is a wealth, which adds to novelty and curiosity of urban population.
Combination of farmer, village and agriculture create a wonderful situation which provides unlimited satisfaction to the tourist specially from urban areas.

Agriculture tourism opportunities in India:
As Indian tourism industry is growing @10.1%. The World Tourism organization has estimated that the tourism industry is growing at the rate of 4% a year and that by the year 2010 there will be more than one billion tourist visit various parts of the world. But Indian tourism industry is growing at the rate of 10% which is 2½ times more that the growth rate at global level. By introducing Agriculture tourism concept, not only present growth rate is sustained but also this value addition contributes to further growth.

As India has entered amongest the top 10 tourist destinations list (Conde Nast Travellor “ A leading European Travel Magazine). India is already established as one of the top tourist destination in the world. Value addition by introducing novel products like Agriculture tourism would only strengthen the competitiveness of Indian tourism industry in global market.

As India has diverse culture and geography which provide ample and unlimited scope for the growth of this business. India has diverse Agro-climatic conditions, diverse crops, people, culture, deserts, mountains, coastal systems and islands which provide scope for promotion of all season, multi-location tourism products.

As There is an increasing number of tourists preferring non-urban tourist spots (financial express). Hence, there is scope for promotion of non-urban tourist spots in interior villages by establishing Agriculture tourism centres. But, adequate facilities and publicity are must to promote such centres.

As Government initiatives and policies in X five year plan, allocation has been increased from 525 crore to 2900 crores. Increased financial allocation reaffirms the government commitment. The increased financial allocation by six times could be used for capacity building of service providers, creation of infrastructure and publicity.

Market mix strategy:
 The proposed market mix strategy for the promotion of Agriculture tourism concept is as follows.

1. Product - The product in Agriculture tourism is seeing, believing and ultimately experiencing. This experience is unique and unmatched. The experience of climbing a tree , buffalo riding in the pond and enjoying the sugarcane juice in the field itself are unique and none of the million dollar tourist centres can create and offer such experiences.

2. Price
a) Customer segment pricing as “ Domestic and foreign tourist could be priced differently as the capacity to pay is different. For a bullock cart riding, a foreign tourist can pay one dollar where as a domestic tourist can pay only one fourth.

b) Location pricing as “ Pricing in Agriculture tourism depends upon location and importance. Agriculture tourism which just offers agriculture and rural life as attraction can charge normal pricing. Where as Agriculture tourism spots which are very close to established tourism centres like temple towns, hill stations, around big citres can go far little bit higher charging due to added value. As the pricing in established tourism places are high, it works out to be cheaper for tourist to stay and enjoy in Agriculture tourism spots.

c) Time pricing as “ Agriculture tourism units can charge higher in peak season i.e. November to January and change less during rest of the period. During rural festivals or at the time of important events Agriculture tourism units can charge more, even though it is during off season.

3. Place as “ The place where tourists are accommodated also influence the pricing. It the tourists are accommodated in villages itself with the farmer, the charging can be less where as accommodation in farms cost high. Because, exclusively for tourist purpose infrastructure is created in farm whereas existing facilities are used in farmers house in village.

4. Promotion as “ Promotion of Agriculture tourism and strategic alliance can takes place at three levels.
(i) Alliance with airlines, tour operators and foreign embassies. This alliance brings foreign tourists and upper middle class urban tourists into Agriculture tourism fold. It may not be possible for individual farmers to take up this task. Government can assist the Agriculture tourism units through promotion and co-ordination activities through central and state tourism departments.

(ii) Alliance with hotel industry as “ Large number of domestic tourists can be attracted through alliance with hotel industry. The hotel industry can be used to promote Agriculture tourism concept.

(iii) Promotion by Agriculture tourism units as “ Basically the promotion takes place through mouth to mouth and local publicity given by Agriculture tourism units. As the absorption capacity of each unit is very less, direct marketing with little aggressive mode is enough for a Agriculture tourism units to survive. They can go for combined publicity on cost sharing basis and also publics the Agriculture tourism potential in other part of the country. But, promotion of this group approach needs initial government interventions.

5. Policies as “ Some of the policy initiatives of urban government would surely help promotion of Agriculture tourism . They are
(i) Building brand identity as Incredible India.
(ii) Rs.60 crore budget for promoting brand
(iii) X five year plan budget increased from Rs. 525 to 2900 crores.
(iv) An allocation of Rs.50 lakhs per village for village tourism has been proposed.
(v) The states are encouraging private public partnership in tourism sector.

6. Positioning as “ Ultimately Agriculture tourism concept has to be positioned in the minds of tourists as  Come, pluck a fruit, smell a flower, run in the fields, lie on the hay and be lost in rural India.

Entertainment Agriculture tourism : Agriculture tourism involvement in agricultural operations create joyful experience to the tourist. Agri-tourist involvement in milching, harvesting competitions, tree climbing, edible adventure, bullock cart race, buffalo race in wet fields namely Kambala in Karnataka, shooting a coconut target, fishing etc could generate enormous joy atleast cost. There is enough scope to charge entry fee to farmers, providing feed and accommodation on payment basis and charging the participation of Agri-tourist during rural games would also generate income to the farmers.

The issues which needs attention for the promotion of Agriculture tourism are:
1. Publicity as “ It is difficult to provide publicity to a remote Agriculture tourism unit. Hence, either collectively such Agriculture tourism operators can provide publicity or organizations like ITDC, State tourism development corporations, NGOs, press and tour operators can take up this responsibility

Information technology can play very important role in promotion of Agriculture tourism. An interactive website containing all details about Agriculture tourism locations and a toll free 24 hours help line can provide necessary information to Agri-tourists.

2. Transport as “ Reaching the remote Agriculture tourism units is the greatest challenge due to lack of approach roads and poor transportation facilities in rural areas. Tele connectivity is must which is yet to reach villages. Government should play important role in creating these facilities namely roads, transport and telecommunication to rural areas specially where Agriculture tourism units are established on priority basis. This efforts could be effective with private participation in partnership mode.

3. Accommodation as “ Safe and clean accommodation is must in Agriculture tourism. Urban and foreign tourists look for these minimum facilities. Orienting Agri tour operators on one hand and providing incentive to such efforts on other hand is necessary. Regular clean water supply and neat toilets are important. At the same time, it is necessary to limit modern facilities in which Agri-tourist is not interested.

4. Networking as “ Networking public and private stakeholders at national and state level to assist the Agriculture tourism operator at remote place is necessary. This network can get policy support, infrastructure and publicity to Agriculture tourism units.

5. Capacity building of farmers as “ Farmer need to be oriented on maintenance of facilities, hospitality and public relation which he is not aware.

6. Safety of tourists as “ Agriculture tourism units are located in remote areas which lacks roads, medical facilities, telecommunication and sometimes threat from theft and wild animals. Hence, support of local population is must besides facilities for emergency medical care.

7. Private as “ pubic partnership as “ Agripreneurs, farmers organizations, co-operatives, NGOs and agribusiness companies can take up these ventures with the help of farmers and government agencies tour operators. Transporters and hospitality industry would also benefit in the process.

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