April 21, 2017 | Dr. Dnyaneshwar Ramnath Waghchoure, Scientist and chief promoter of Ashwamedh Group and Trustee of Ashwamedh Herbal Research and Development Trust
Overview of Agro Tourism
Agro tourism can be defined as the ‘rural experience’ which encompasses a wide range of attractions and activities that take place in rural areas.The rising popularity of Ayurveda has drawnmany followers towards the use of herbal remedies for better health.The herbal medicineshave gain popularity because it does not have any side effect and is cheaper than other form ofmedicines. Rural areas are treasure of information aboutherbal medicine and traditional medication techniques. These traditional healing practices attract both domestic and foreign tourists and promote rural health tourism.Its key characteristics include wide-open spaces, low levels of tourism infrastructure development, and opportunities for visitors to directly experience agricultural andnatural environments.
A major form of tourism is agro-tourism, which refers to, “the act of visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation for the purpose of medicine, education, or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation.
Agro tourism is also revolutionizing businesses and prompting economic development across the globe. The government has implemented several regional and state-wide development projects to increase the effectiveness of rural tourism/farm activities. India government has also offered a wide range of products and health based services to promote tourism in the remote rural areas.
Ayurveda in India
The origin of Ayurveda is attributed to Atharva Veda where mention is made several diseases with their treatments. Later, from the 6th Century BC to 7th Century AD there was systematic development of the science and it is called Samhita period, when a number of classical works were produced by several authors and during this period there is evidence of organized medical care.
Use of plants as a source of medicine has been an ancient practice and is an important component of the health care system in India.In west also the use of herbal medicines is growing with approximately 40% of population reporting use of herb to treat medical diseases within the past year.There are about 45,000 medicinal plant species in India, with concentrated spots in the region of Eastern Himalayas, Western Ghats and Andaman & Nicobar Island. The officially documented plants with medicinal potential are 3000 but traditional practitioners use more than 6000. India is the largest producer of medicinal herbs and is called the botanical garden of the world.In rural India, 70% of the population depends on the traditional type of medicine, the Ayurveda.
It is estimated that about 80,000 species of plants are utilized in some form or other by the different systems of Indian medicine.The codified traditions have about 25,000 plant drug formulations that have emerged from such studies. In addition to this, over 50,000 formulations are believed to be existing in the folk and tribal traditions.
Status of Ayurveda in India
The Indian government and non-government organizations have been collecting statistics on the Ayurvedic system in India and these data about the manpower and institutional aspects of Ayurveda have emerged:
Reasons behind the Resurgence of Interest in Ayurveda in Foreign Countries
Holistic approach as opposed to over specialization;
Concept of homeostasis as basis of health in Ayurveda;
Importance of sensible life style in harmony with nature, climate and customs;
Use of natural resources as medicine to which our body system is geared through predisposition;
Hazardous effect of modern chemical therapeutic agents
Market Size of Agro – Tourism in Maharashtra
Agricultural tourism has grown to be a `13.14 croreindustries in Maharashtra, despite not getting any financial or marketing assistance from the government. There are 127 set-ups across the state offering tourists a chance to experience a slice of rural life. "More than 3.3 lakh tourists visited these agri-tourism centers in Maharashtra in 2012-13, but the potential is much greater. There are estimates that suggest that, if 10% of domestic tourists in Maharashtra travel to these destinations, it can become a `2,800 crore industry.
Secured Governance – Agro – Tourism for Economic Growth
Secured Governance (SG) offers a strategy for the Agro - Tourism to get all the basic infrastructure development with a negligible investment by the Agro – Tourism HUB. The very concept of “Secured’’ here implies a secured convergence or knitting with various sectors defining a growth for an economy and employment. SG concept focuses on strengthening the Private Partnerships while substantially reducing the involvement of Agro – Tourism HUB developer. The developerwill play a supervisory and a monitoring role rather than getting entangled into the nitty-gritty of big projects. Majority of the investments will be made by the other private entities or foreign investors which would definitely require huge bank funding. Now since most of the developmental work comes under private infrastructure and services the banks may be in a position to fund such projects.
Value and Valuation of the allied projects will make it a self-sustaining mechanism while bringing unprecedented growth and development for the area of agro - tourism. This valuation of infrastructure, which grows many folds need to be shared by the society and support to infrastructure development, ensuring balanced growth. Today we find the valuation due to infrastructure growth is not channelized towards infrastructure development and results in inequalities.
The aim of Agro – Tourism HUB includes attracting both domestic and foreign tourist and development of tourism allied activities to support economic growth and development. A developing specific service capability for Agro – Tourism HUB is expected to attract further work. The HUB will include a world class Ayurvedic Healthcare service centre for all type of diseases. Itwill enable prime contractors and small businesses to establish in and out of mini tourism HUB to deliver sustainable revenue model and direct and indirect employment opportunities.
Agro – Tourism HUB will to provide for high quality commercial development along Key Tourism destinations, which serve as Mini Tourism HUB. This HUB will be part of existing or new development project. It will not only facilitate public utility space for the travelers but also promotes commercial units generating employment and revenue from the defined region. Moreover, the HUB well equipped with rural facilities and services in the areas of commerce, communication, connectivity, hospitality, transportation, medical facilities, ATM etc.
There are many countries in the West that have realized the opportunity and potential in the field, and as a result many successful companies based on Ayurveda and its traditions have come up in the recent past. There is an urgent need for a ‘paradigm shift’ and to initiate necessary policy measures for India to achieve its target of Rs.7,000 crores or approximately US$1.12 billion by 2020. At present complementary and alternative practices are adjuncts or alternatives to Western medical approaches.In both developed and developing countries, users of complementary methods also commonly seek conventional care. The business prospects amounts to a US$20 billion ready market, which is growing at a very fast rate and would become a US$5 trillion market worldwide by 2050. It goes without saying that large portions of this market would be centred in India being the origin. The total size of the Indian Ayurvedic market is Rs.5,000crore and it is growing substantially at a rate between 10-15%, with the same growth rate targeted for the next 10 years.
Agriculture HUBs will have state-of-the-art facilities, at par with the best in contemporary international scenario, duly adapted for local conditions.It needs a system to integrate economic interdependence in today’s modern societies which not only decreases uncertainty regarding where risks begin and end, but also help in judicious planning and development of new empowered, transparent and interdependent Governance systems with higher degree of society participation in nation building Process. Agro – Tourism HUB projectcan become a driver ofeconomicgrowth by generatingemployment for the youth. Itwill growa variety of medicinal plants and herbs that provides as ingredients for Ayurvedic medicines made at the Agro Tourism HUB as well as the treatment of various illnesses, as well as maintaining good health in the long term.