THRISSUR: Rolling hills, a gurgling river and unlimited fruity delights all under one roof. What more do you need to unwind? The Banana Research Centre of Kerala Agricultural University at Kannara is planning to foray into farm tourism by attracting visitors with an array of delicacies served in sylvan settings.
“The centre has the potential to foray into farm tourism and it needs to be tapped,” head of the centre P B Pushpalatha told Express.
Spread across 50 acres on the banks of the Manali River, the centre maintains 212 varieties of bananas--the largest in the country and the second biggest in Asia. As many as 150 types are cultivated here.
An officer said the project report explaining the centre’s tourism potential was being prepared and it would be presented to the university soon.
Surrounded by the Peechi and Vazhani forests, the centre plans to showcase the cultivation of different varieties of bananas as well as a whole range of products, ranging from jams and jellies to halwa, cakes, juice and curios.
It has a production unit bringing out artefacts from plantain trunks. Interestingly, the unit houses prototypes of shirts and saris made from banana fibre. Once the project kicks off, they can be manufactured on a commercial basis.
By opening its doors to tourists, the centre hopes to find a wider market for its natural products as well as greater publicity for its research. “The project aims at farm-education tourism,” said the officer.Tapping the natural beauty of its surroundings, the centre will construct lodging facilities on the bank of the river as well as a food court and the roads will be asphalted.
It expects a grant of ` 1 crore from the university. Once it gets the green signal, the project can take off in six months, the officer said. Located three kilometres from the Peechi dam, one of the key tourist attractions in the district, gives it an added advantage.
The centre also plans to project itself as a zero waste area, where organic refuse is converted into manure. Its organic farm will be of interest to tourists, said the officer.