In 2019 we have celebrated, 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi gave us many things for the future, but the most important message was to go to the village. Although this message has been ignored by the Indians, the capitalism of the world has not neglected the Indian rural market at all, and hence in today’s remote rural villages, you will find international branded goods and services in this market. There is no denying that the people of India, from urban to rural areas, have been looking at it from the perspective of a foreign country for the last 30-40 years. If this were not the case, then tourism-oriented concepts like agri and rural tourism would not have taken root and grown in agrarian India. But in fact, a very good thing happened, and the city and the village began to be connected. What is the source of your food for people of all ages living in the city? Which tree does what we eat come from? In what soil does it grow? All this was helped through agri and rural tourism. At the same time, a strong alternative emerged through agri and rural tourism to experience a few days of relaxation from the usual fast-paced and stressful life in the city. It happened on the urban side. The concept of agri and rural tourism has enabled rural farmers, self-help groups, small and large scale cottage industries to reach their homes through a vibrant market. While farming, there are many problems to be faced, in which agri and rural tourism can be looked at as a source of complementary and sustainable income. It happened in terms of finance. Once the economy is achieved, even if we say roughly that we have developed, this development, this prosperity, this perfection is not. When we look at tourism from the perspective of agri and rural tourism, it is worthwhile to think about the exact definition of rural prosperity. The concept of self-sufficient village in Mahatma Gandhi’s interpretation was not just about semantics. Village prosperity means that the economy will become very shallow. Overall self-sufficiency is very important. The development of a territory means all-round development. Then if there is prosperity in it which is complemented by many organs like economics, sociology, education, health, social security, pollution free, cultural awareness, social consciousness, then we can call it eternal village prosperity.
Then, in our village, in our area, when the concept of agri and rural tourism is growing or when agri and rural tourism is developing, it is necessary to consider whether rural prosperity is being achieved in the true sense. If this idea is in the development of agri and rural tourism, then it can be called responsible tourism. This responsibility is not only to run the tourism business, but in that connection, the visitors coming to our tourist center should have a proper understanding of all the things like agriculture, farmers, village, village structure. Guests should be able to experience the rural culture. They should understand rural India. They need to know the problems here, the current situation here, and the opportunities here. The feeling that urban and rural is not against each other. If the visitors to your agri and rural tourism center are ignorant about agriculture and village, then your responsibility as an agri and rural tourism concept driver becomes very important. In such a case, just sell Hurda, sit in the bullock cart, let the chicken mutton on the stove, dance, they should not get involved in such a narrow thing in rain dance, agri and rural tourism. The concept of agri and rural tourism should be seen as a mirror of rural areas. The India of the villages is changing; we should allow this change to be experienced by the visitors through agri and rural tourism. If this is to be done, for the first time, an agri and rural tourism center will have to be set up which is connected with the local soil, culture, folk art and food culture. You have to build genuine agro-tourism concepts without setting up concepts in the minds of urban people, not just commercial markets, then you have to study for it, you have to visit other agro-tourism centers, you have to study the local culture. If you look at it like that, people don’t have any habits, they have to get used to it. Then it doesn’t make sense that we have built commercial tourism because people want it. Raise the concept of tourism from your study, convince people of its importance, get used to it, people will start coming to you. Once the concept of agri and rural tourism is born out of this sentiment, if agri-tourism is started with this sentiment, then one day the gap between city and village will surely narrow and good things will go hand in hand. It should be kept in mind that the concept of agri and rural tourism is enjoyable, it has the opportunity to have fun on the farm but at the same time it is a means of connecting the umbilical cord to the soil.
Many examples can be given of exactly what kind of village prosperity is achieved through agri and rural tourism, for example, local artisans use their skills to set up agricultural and rural tourism centers. Once the agri-tourism center was set up, the manpower required for its management, cooking, weeding, cleaning was available from the local villages and alternatively employment was created. For the entertainment of the urban guests, the folk artists of the village who perform arts like Jagran, Gondhal, Povada, Bharud get a kind of platform, along with the honorarium, the art also gets respect. The next generation will cherish this artistic heritage. Through the tourists who come, there is a live market to buy agricultural produce grown on the farms of the agri-tourism center or in the surrounding fields. Not only can that, but the chain of sale of processed farm produce stand on this occasion. In a village where there is agri-tourism, a platform is created for the sale of goods made from the movement of women self-help groups. People who work at the agri-tourism center enjoy the company of urban visitors, which enhances positive things like communication skills, confidence, understanding of the world, personality development. Our old people used to tell us to travel the world and get wisdom, through agri and rural tourism, every holiday from all over the world, people come to your tourist center, you stay at home, and you get an idea ofwhat is going on in the world with money. If someone comes from far away to look after their farm, then the confidence of farmers to grow a good farm grows. The visitors from the city understand the hard work of the farmers; appreciate them, in short, take note of the work. While chatting with the tourists, realizing how fast the glittering city is, how the work is done there, how happy we are where we are, in a sense we start looking at our own life with a positive feeling. We also see opportunities in our lives, so we don’t have to leave the village and go to the city. I give earthen bulls as a return gift to visitors to my tourist center. I make this bull from a potter from a nearby village. Once a guest from Singapore came, Kumbhardada had brought a bull. He gave the oxen to the guests with his own hands, I took their photos, that photo is enlarged in the house of the potter grandfather today, he proudly shows it to the people who come to him. Gondhalibuwa, who presents Jagran Gondhal folk art, enchants the guests with his invention of art and makes them keep pace. He used to work in Jaimalhar series as well as in films got a chance. The opinion of the village peddlers has come on Trip Advisor, the farmers who bring their produce to the weekly market are selling vegetables to the guests. Tourists are coming again and again to eat the famous misal of the village. Visitors are visiting schools here, interacting with students, trying to help them in different ways. Tourists are guiding local youth on what opportunities are currently available in the area where they are working. There are so many things that can be listed that are happening with the establishment of agri and rural tourism centers. As far as I know, any agri and rural tourism center run with social commitment and responsibility will not only benefit the farmer financially but also facilitate his overall development. And the same feeling will be with the surrounding social situation. Abroad, 2-3% of the people depend on agriculture; there is a large urban class. They have the concept of agri-tourism as a social need. Although 50% of our people depend on agriculture and 70% live in villages, agri and rural tourism have become a socio-economic necessity for all Indians. As the unemployment crisis deepens, agri and rural tourism can be seen as areas with potential for rapid job creation. This is the way to achieve social development through tourism. If rural India is to become self-sufficient and prosperous, the concept of agri and rural tourism must be supported at all levels.
Manoj Hadwale (Author is state tourism trainer for Directorate of Tourism, Govt of Maharashtra & tourism consultant since 2015)
Founder- Junnar Tourism Development Orgunization
Director- Parashar Agriculture and Rural Tourism, Junnar