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Maharashtra government to host International Agri-Tourism Conference

Chintu Das
Chintu Das

Maharashtra was the first state in the country to establish and promote agri-tourism. The Maharashtra Government's Department of Tourism, in collaboration with Agri Tourism Development Corporation India, is hosting a "INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON AGRI TOURISM" on the 15th and 16th of May 2021 to further promote it in the state and commemorate the 14th World Agri-Tourism Day (16th May).

The conference's aim is to look into the long-term entrepreneurship opportunities for rural women through Agri-Tourism. The conference will provide a forum for national and foreign experts, scholars, and farmers to share their knowledge and showcase effective agri-tourism practices from countries such as Italy, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, Uganda, South Africa, the Philippines, Scotland, Spain, and Thailand.

The conference will include an overview of the agri-tourism market, including its challenges and opportunities, as well as suggestions and an action plan to direct efforts to improve the sector. It will also highlight the critical role of rural women as enablers of sustainable and socially responsible tourism.

The international conference will also honor women farmers and agri-tourism practitioners for their achievements by presenting them with the ‘World Agri Tourism Awards 2021,' which will be chosen by the International Agri-tourism Awards Committee.

The following are the winners of the prestigious awards:

- Dr. Ashwini Kotkar, Dirghayu Agri-Tourism Centre, Birwadi, Shahapur, Thane: She has a 45-acre orchard where she grows mangoes using an organic farming process.

- Mrs. Sangita Bhapkar, Nisarg Sangeet Agri-Tourism Centre, Morgaon, Baramati: She owns and operates a 5-acre agri-tourism center.

- Mrs. Kasar Nanda, owner of Meher Retreat Agri Tourism Center, Pune: She owns and operates a 27-acre agri-tourism facility. She has improved the livelihood conditions for women in her village as a result of her efforts.

- Maria Baryamujura, Founder of Cobati, Uganda: She is concentrating her efforts on encouraging local communities in areas with high tourism potential to grow homestays and other grassroots tourism attractions.

- Jacqui Taylor, Founder & Managing Director Agri-tourism South Africa and Agri-tourism Africa: She has been supporting agri-tourism and sustainable tourism projects in Africa for over 30 years, with a background in tourism and agriculture.

- Caroline Miller, The Hideaway Experience Balkello Farms, Scotland: She owns and operates the agri-tourism business ‘Go Rural,' and has contributed significantly to the growth of agri-tourism in Scotland.

- Dr. Meena Gabor, International School of Sustainable Tourism, Philippines – As the former Secretary of Tourism for the Philippines, she was instrumental in the growth, promotion, and activity of sustainable tourism in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

- Mrs. Scottie Jones, Leaping Lamb Farm & Farm Stay- Oregon, America: In America, she popularized Farm Stays. Leaping Lamb Farm has six rooms available for rent and welcomes a large number of visitors.

- Ms Charinee Chaiyochlarb, Mini Murrah Farm, Thailand: In 2003, she began her Murrah Dairy Company by importing 50 buffaloes from India. Her village's women are also assisted by the agri-tourism center.

The Maharashtra Government's Department of Tourism wins the award in the Government initiative category for its outstanding contribution to the growth of agri-tourism in the state and the creation of long-term employment opportunities for farmers.

Over 1000 Agri-Tourism centers exist in Maharashtra, empowering farmers and rural communities to improve their economic viability and resilience. The centers make a significant contribution to women's livelihoods in rural areas.

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