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By James Kabue
1. In your own words, how would you define Agro-Tourism? And do you think Agro-Tourism is a valid way of combating some of Africa’s problems like food insecurity?
Agro-tourism is a niche form of tourism that involves any agricultural based operation or activity that brings visitors to farms, plantations or ranches. This form of tourism, as opposed to wildlife tourism, involves interactions at the farms where the tourists get to see different farm settings, different crops being grown, and processing at the farm both for crops and livestock. This kind of tourism is mainly targeted at individuals who have an interest in farming and would like to get a feel of an actual farming enterprise and know the intricacies involved in farming. This form of tourism is slowly picking up in Africa as farmers have now realized the benefits of this type of tourism as they can earn an extra source of income from charging visitors gate fees to come and view their farms.
Agro-Tourism is a sector that is not fully exploited due to lack of knowledge and exposure to the farmers, however it is a niche enterprise that small holder farmers can take an advantage off to earn an extra shilling from their farms thus earning extra income which will be re-invested in the farms making them more productive.
2. What’s your comment on the current state of Agro-tourism in Africa?
Agro-Tourism in Africa has not been exploited to its full potential as farmers have no knowledge or information on how to position their farms to attract visitors who would like to learn from their enterprises. There is great potential to grow this sector as farmers and investors from across Africa and beyond would like to learn on successful agricultural enterprises.
3. What will be some of the biggest challenges we will need to overcome in order to have a thriving agro-tourism?
The main challenge in agro-Tourism is that farmers do not have the requisite knowledge to conduct agricultural tours, marketing their farms as agro-tourism hubs and the individuals interested in going for agro-tours do not have information on farms that can be visited as well as lack of tour firms organizing for agro-tours.This can be overcome by creating a platform where interested tourists can be linked to potential farms either through internet or some other means of communication and discussing with tour firms on the need and potential of conducting agro-tours
4. Could you share some of the experiences that prove that Agro-tourism works?
Agricultural Society of Kenya, ASK, conducts agricultural shows in all counties in Kenya throughout the year and the main focus on these shows is showcasing the agricultural innovations by various agricultural enterprises including Demo farms. The attendance, which goes beyond 100,000 attendants per show, is a great indicator of the potential of agro-tours as majority of Kenyans are interested in farming and would likely want to see an actual farm in operation.
5. And finally, what are some of the exciting agro-tourism opportunities that can trickle down to smallholder pockets…and actually make a difference on a larger scale?
Having worked with more than 3 million farmers in the past 10 years, we have numerous case studies of success stories experienced by small holder farmers. Some of these stories have been shared on our website and social media and for any individual interested in visiting the actual farms a nominal fee is charged that goes directly to the farmers’ pockets. This can also be done in partnership with the Media who will highlight the success stories.
FCI VISION :Commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond.