Now, Kerala's Farm Projects Turn Tourist Destinations
By Aswathi Krishna and Deepthi Sreenivasan | Published: 25th December 2013 09:57 AM |
Inspired by Subash Palekar, a group of zero budget farming enthusiasts here is setting up an integrated farm at Perambra. Named ‘Palekarpuram’, the 16-acre-plot comprising 12 separate farming projects will also be a tourist destination. Towards the south of the state, an organic vegetable farm of Kanjikuzhi Panchayat in Cherthala is evolving as a tourist centre.
But such initiatives to twin tourism with agriculture are not getting the support of the government, farmers feel. The state with close to 3 lakh hectares of land under paddy cultivation is hugely dependent on agriculture, but the government is yet to come out with significant measures to tap the agri-tourism potential, apart from Green Farms, an initiative of Kerala Tourism.
States such as Gujarat and Maharashtra are raking in the moolah by clubbing these two sectors with huge push from the tourism ministry. The Gujarat government has plans to set up a Centre of Excellence for Agriculture Tourism, whereas Maharashtra’s agri-tourism industry has grown by `13.14 crore in a short period, because of the efforts by Pandurang Taware who pioneered the concept through the Agri Tourism Development Corporation in Maharashtra.
According to Basheer Kalathingal, who has a farm in Palekarpuram, lack of support from the government is the main obstacle faced by the farmers. “This is because Agri-tourism is hardly on government’s agenda,” he said. Sufi healer Hamsa Madikai, on a mission to set up herbal groves across the state, feels that medicinal gardens can be a major source of income for agri-tourism in Malabar.
“As of now the tourism department is not directly involved in promoting agri-tourism. However, there are few proposals submitted by the Agricultural department which we have to analyse, before giving support,” said A P Anilkumar, Minister for Tourism.
Officials in the department of agriculture said private groups involved in agri-tourism are yet to approach them. “We will consider these proposals once they come to us. As of now we have submitted a proposal for a project in Nelliyampathy,” said R Ajith Kumar, Director of Agriculture.
The Kerala government had earlier permitted usage of 5 per cent of farm land for tourism and non-farming activities.