“IIndia is just not Calcutta and Bombay; India lives in its seven lakh villages.”
Whereas this was an announcement made by MK Gandhi virtually half a century in the past, it’s nonetheless estimated at present with India’s official farmer inhabitants between 100 million and 150 million.
Given how dependent farmers are on the uncertainty of monsoon, authorities insurance policies and varied different exterior components, it has turn out to be extraordinarily vital for them to search out methods to complement their revenue. Pandurang Taware (52), son of a farmer from Shangvi in Maharashtra’s Baramati district, has claimed to have helped over 628 farmers earn Rs 58 crore within the final monetary yr (pre-Covid) with the introduction of agri-tourism.
Pandurang firmly believes in serving to farmers discover methods to diversify their work and improve their revenue.
speaking to higher india, he says, “I grew up in a joint household the place everybody was concerned in farming. I studied laptop science and labored within the tourism business for about 20 years earlier than coming again to my village. ,
“In a way, getting again into farming was a approach of fulfilling my father’s dream. He needed me to pursue a level in agriculture however at the moment my rating was not adequate for it. After having fun with my stint within the tourism sector I needed to discover a method to mix the 2,” says Pandurang.
He’s also called the ‘Father of Agri-tourism idea in India’.
Returning to farming appeared like a pure step for Pandurang. Nevertheless, he talked about how the selections and steps weren’t straightforward for his spouse.
Incorporating classes from the West in India
“For my spouse Vaishali Taware, who grew up within the metropolis, shifting to the village and beginning over was not a simple step. Whereas there was reluctance to start with, she has turn out to be my greatest supporter and cheerleader over the previous 19 years,” he says.
Pandurang additionally narrates how he married Vaishali, receiving a wage of Rs 470 and says that life was financially tough. “Coming again to the village additionally meant coming again to our house,” he says.
“I used to be 32 once I determined to maneuver from a well-paying job to agri-tourism,” he provides. Agritourism, as an idea, has lengthy been practiced in Europe and has many patrons. Pandurang says he noticed the potential to determine an identical idea in India, and in 2002 he went on to search out methods to start out agri-tourism in his village.
Earlier than formally launching the agri-tourism idea in Maharashtra, Pandurang says he spent 2003 conducting a market pattern survey and that knowledge helped construction the entire idea. He stated this sampling of the market was completed with a pattern measurement of two,440 individuals. With this knowledge, in 2005, Agriculture Tourism Improvement Company (ATDC) was launched from Maharashtra.
“After I began, it was all very new for each the farmers and people who signed as much as come and expertise this life.”
“Alongside the way in which we realized what would work and the way we might make the very best expertise for these visiting the farm,” Pandurang says. The concept behind the enterprise was not solely to host the city dwellers but additionally to make sure that they expertise the lifetime of a farmer. Together with this, Pandurang says that contemporary produce from the farm can be out there for buy and this additionally will increase the revenue of the farmers.
Empowering over 600 farmers
Speaking about his household expertise with farming, Pandurang says, “My grandfather Baburao Tawde owned 13 acres of land. That they had six youngsters, 4 sons and two daughters. Whereas farming actions earned him cash twice a yr, the upkeep and maintenance of the land lined the complete yr. Rising bills and declining revenue had been one of many explanation why none of my uncles ventured into agriculture besides my father.”
Pandurang additionally says right here that the preliminary perception of seeing the idea work led him to take a position round Rs 6 lakh within the enterprise. This was his financial savings from his tourism job and sadly, the primary yr of launch didn’t see a lot traction with vacationers. “I invested some huge cash in ads and regardless of spending an enormous amount of cash on it, for the primary fortnight, we received zero calls. After a grueling wait of few months, we received our first buyer in October 2005.
Pandurang remembers his first pilot tour that he organized and speaks fondly of how he took the reserving particulars, took the group across the farm for the tour, defined to them how issues labored and gave them meals. is served. It was an expertise I’ll always remember and that launched our enterprise, so to say. There was a lull for the enterprise for the subsequent three months, from October to December.
However shortly thereafter, he says, “it was a 4,000-member ladies’s group primarily based out of Pune that visited the farm in January 2006 and since then has not appeared again.”
Over the subsequent 18 months, the enterprise hosted about 13,000 vacationers on the farm.
Krishna Padtare, a farmer from Nasarpur in Bhor taluka, who has been concerned within the enterprise and Pandurang for over six years, says, “The form of inflation we’re experiencing makes it doable to run our households solely on revenue from our agricultural produce. hopefully. inadequate. With the affiliation of ATDC, we have now skilled virtually 5 occasions improve in our revenue.” Earlier than becoming a member of ATDC, Krishna says that he tried varied enterprise concepts from poultry farming to dairy farming, however sadly none of them. Did not get good outcome both.
“With out sounding like an commercial, I need to say that agricultural tourism has considerably elevated our revenue to me and my household,” he says. “I additionally be taught from vacationers who come and go to the farm. There’s a lot to be taught from each vacationer,” says Krishna.
Pandurang says, “The idea is straightforward – stay like a farmer, interact in farming actions, expertise bullock cart, journey a tractor, fly kites, eat genuine meals, put on conventional garments, perceive the native tradition, people songs And benefit from the dance, purchase contemporary farm produce and in return assist the farmer to take care of his house and earn further revenue.”
To expertise this life for a day you’ll have to spend Rs 1,000 per individual, which incorporates two main meals; Breakfast, lunch and night tea with breakfast. For many who wish to spend the evening on the farm, the associated fee rises to Rs 1,500, which can embrace all meals.
For his work in selling agri-tourism, Pandurang has additionally gained a number of nationwide and worldwide awards.
These embrace two Nationwide Awards for Introducing the Most Progressive Tourism Product within the Nation in 2008-2009 and Promotion of Accountable Tourism in 2013-2014.
Pandurang was additionally instrumental in drafting the coverage on agri-tourism in Maharashtra and the coverage mandates faculties to make sure that college students from class 5 to class 10 take a obligatory instructional go to yearly to a farm. Spend time in “It is a whole of round 1 crore faculty college students from varied aided and unaided faculties in Maharashtra. Catching them younger will assist them make a stronger impression,” he says.
,service to charityHolding this philosophy in thoughts – that means do one thing that advantages not solely you however these round you, Pandurang has helped make life extraordinarily snug and profitable for himself and over 600 different farmers in Maharashtra. achieved success. “We’ve got managed to make Rs 50 crore pre-COVID by the sale of agricultural produce and the visits we do. This quantity helped over 600 farmers related to us,” says Pandurang.
He’s now engaged on taking the agritourism idea to different elements of the nation.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)