Farm tourism attracts visitors and travellers to farm areas, generally for educational and recreational purposes Photo credit: Hendy Farms
Farm tourism attracts visitors and travellers to farm areas, generally for educational and recreational purposes Photo credit: Hendy Farms

Agric Tourism

The topics of cocoa, chocolate and tourism have been in the media for a variety of reasons leading us to discuss agricultural tourism.

The field of tourism is such that it is easily amenable to several fields. When we describe the industry as multi-faceted that is what we mean. So, join us and let’s discuss farm tourism which could become the next frontier.

Also known as agritourism or agrotourism, this field is defined broadly to involve any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch.

Farm tourism attracts visitors and travellers to farm areas, generally for educational and recreational purposes that encourage economic activity and provide income to the community.

Agritourism has different definitions in different parts of the world, and sometimes refers specifically to farm stays. Can you imagine going in a small group to a cocoa farm to live there for a couple of days? That is what farm tourism is about. The field includes a wide variety of activities, eg. buying produce direct from a farm stand, navigating a corn maze, watering plants, picking fruit, feeding animals, or staying at a bed and breakfast (B&B) on a farm.

It is a niche market that is considered a growth industry in many parts of the world, including Australia, Canada, the United States and the Philippines.

How did this type of tourism develop? First of all, since 1960 tourists have become increasingly interested in rural or countryside hotels. To be fair, this was around the time Ghana developed its Farm Brigades. In parts of Europe and in America there was a boom in rural accommodation in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The choice was still limited, by and large, to basic agritourism farm-holiday places or rather stuffy country-house hotels.

The past few years have seen the arrival of a handful of stylish luxury spa resorts, and some mid-range options where guests benefit from a hands-on, personal approach.

Another reason for the rise in farm tourism is that people have become more interested in how their food is produced. They want to meet farmers and processors and talk with them about what goes into food production. For many people who visit farms, especially children, the visit marks the first time they see the source of their food, be it a dairy cow, an ear of corn growing in a field, or cotton they can pick right off a tree.

Agritourists can choose from a wide range of activities that include picking fruits and vegetables, riding horses, tasting honey, learning about wine and cheesemaking, or shopping in farm gift shops and farm stands for local and regional produce or hand-crafted gifts.

Farmers and ranchers use this interest to develop traffic at their farm or ranch, and interest in the quality of their products, as well as awareness of their products.

Agricultural tourism is one alternative for improving the incomes and potential economic viability of small farms and rural communities. This calls for planning and marketing a rural community and weighing the pros and cons of tourism. Local citizen participation is helpful and should be included in starting any kind of a tourism programme.

Citizen participation in planning tourism can contribute to building a successful programme that enhances the community. Farm tourism can be used to educate consumers about an organic and healthy life style. It raises awareness of food from "farm to dining table", and introduces agri-tourism and entertainment farming to explore the beauty of agri fields and farm-fresh feelings.

Similar to ecotourism, farm tourism focuses on travel that is low-impact and empowers local communities socially and economically.

Although it is still far from being a major contributor to overall tourism receipts, farm tourism aims to supplement the business model of farmers and explore new ways of generating income through tour packages that include planting, harvesting and creating value added products.

While revenue and education are often primary drivers for farmers to diversify their operations and invite guests onto their property, safety isn't always a top priority. Accidents involving tractors, wagon rides, trips, falls, and traffic occur at agritourism operations on a regular basis.

According to the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST), the distance between the production and consumption of farm products gets closer to the market, consumers’ interest on how crops are produced are also being heightened.

In our part of the world where the youth shun agriculture, farm tourism encourages the younger generation to eventually venture into farming.
Above all, imagine all the millions of people around the world who enjoy chocolate coming to Ghana to experience a cocoa farm!


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