1. Success Story

Meet Pandurang Taware, ‘Father of Agritourism’ who helped over 600 farmers earn Rs 58 crore

Agritourism as a concept has long been popular in Europe, and it continues to grow in popularity. According to Pandurang, he recognized promise in trying a similar model in India, so he moved to his village in 2002 to figure out how to get started with agritourism.

Binita Kumari
"I grew up in a joint family with everyone interested in farming," he explains. Before returning to my village, I studied computer technology and worked in the tourism sector for nearly 20 years."
"I grew up in a joint family with everyone interested in farming," he explains. Before returning to my village, I studied computer technology and worked in the tourism sector for nearly 20 years."

Given how reliant farmers are on the vagaries of the monsoon, government policies, and a variety of other external factors, finding ways to supplement their income has become vital. Pandurang Taware (52), a farmer's son from Shangavi in Maharashtra's Baramati district, claims that the introduction of agritourism helped over 628 farmers earn Rs 58 crore in the previous financial year (pre-COVID).

"I grew up in a joint family with everyone interested in farming," he explains. Before returning to my village, I studied computer technology and worked in the tourism sector for nearly 20 years."

"In some ways, returning to farming as a means of fulfilling my father's goal." He had hoped that I would pursue a degree in agriculture, but my grades were inadequate at the time. "After enjoying my time in the tourism industry, I wanted to find a method to combine the two," Pandurang adds.

He is also called India's "Father of the Agritourism Concept."

"Coming to the village and beginning from scratch was not an easy move for my wife, Vaishali Taware, who grew up in the city.”While she was hesitant at first, she has become my biggest supporter and cheerleader over the last 19 years," he says.

Pandurang also mentions that when he married Vaishali, he was earning Rs 470 per month and that life was challenging financially. "Returning to the village also meant returning to our own home," he added.

"I made the decision to transfer from a well-paying job to agritourism when I was 32 years old," he continues. Agritourism as a concept has long been popular in Europe, and it continues to grow in popularity.

According to Pandurang, he recognized promise in trying a similar model in India, so he moved to his village in 2002 to figure out how to get started with agritourism.

Pandurang claims that before formally starting the agritourism concept in Maharashtra, he spent 2003 conducting a market sample survey, which helped him structure the entire concept.

He says that the sample size for this market sample was 2,440 people. With this information, Maharashtra established the Agri Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) in 2005.

"My grandpa Baburao Tawade owned 13 acres of land," Pandurang adds of his own family's farming experience. Four sons and two daughters were among his six children. While their farming efforts provided them with money twice a year, the costs of keeping and tending to the land came in all year. One of the reasons none of my uncles, except my father, ventured into farming was the growing expenses and shrinking revenue."

Pandurang further mentions that his initial belief in the concept's ability to work led him to invest about Rs 6 lakh in the venture. These were his savings from his tourism profession, and the first year after the debut, there was little interest from travelers.

"I invested a lot of money on advertisements, and despite spending a lot of money on them; we had zero calls for the first fortnight." After a few agonizing months of waiting, we finally got our first customer in October 2005."

Pandurang remembers his first pilot trip warmly, recalling how he took down the booking information, led the party around the farm for the visit, explained how everything worked and fed them. It was an experience I'll never forget, and it was the catalyst for our business." The venture remained in a lull for the next three months, from October to December.

"The concept is simple," Pandurang says, "stay like a farmer, participate in farming activities, ride in a bullock cart, fly kites, eat authentic food, dress traditionally, learn about the local culture, enjoy folk songs and dance, buy fresh farm produce, and in turn help the farmer maintain his home and earn an additional income."

It would cost you Rs 1,000 per person to live this life for one day, which includes two big meals: breakfast, lunch, and evening tea with snacks.

If you want to stay the night on the farm, the price rises to Rs 1,500, which includes all meals.

Two national awards were given in 2008-2009 for introducing the most innovative tourist product in the country and in 2013-2014 for promoting responsible tourism.

Pandurang was also engaged in the creation of Maharashtra's agritourism policy, which requires schools to ensure that children in grades 5 through 10 spend one mandatory educational trip each year to a farm.

Pandurang and more than 600 other Maharashtra farmers have made a comfortable and prosperous life for themselves.

"Prior to COVID, we were able to make over Rs 50 crores from farm produce sales and tours." "Over 600 farmers who are linked with us benefited from this money," says Pandurang.

He is now trying to expand the concept of agritourism to other states of India.

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