Tourism has traditionally been the third-largest foreign exchange earner in Sri Lanka because of its natural beauty. Now tourism combined with agriculture has been created a new pathway; Agritourism.
In Sri Lanka, cultivation is strictly divided into two main seasons; namely, Yala & Maha. The main cultivation season is the Maha season which commences in early November and ends in March. Yala season commences in April and ends around early October. The timing of the commencement of agricultural activities in these two seasons coincides with the two main monsoons, namely the North/ East Monsoon and South / West monsoon. The North / East monsoon commences by the end of October or early November and records the highest rainfall for the year and is, therefore, most suitable for paddy cultivation. The South/ West monsoon normally commences in early May and records very much lesser rainfall and is ideal for vegetable cultivation.
Sri Lanka has a long history of agriculture which includes ancient irrigation tanks, and plantations, and paddy cultivation systems. It has been developed over a course of 2500 years; livelihood is mainly based on agriculture. Therefore, Sri Lanka may be an ideal location to experience the agriculture as well as the way of life of the local people in the country.
What is Agritourism?
Agritourism or Agrotourism involves any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch such as travel organized around farming, small-scale food production, or animal husbandry. Agritourism should ensure the following three basic principles. There should be
- something for visitors to see and enjoy such as animals, birds, farms, orchards, and nature Apart from these, culture, dress, festivals related to agriculture and rural games could create enough interest among visitors in Agritourism.
- something for visitors to do and enjoy such as participating in agricultural operations(harvesting, seeding, planting, food processing), swimming, fishing, cooking, and participating in the rural games.
- something for visitors to buy as a memento; rural crafts, dress materials, farm gate fresh agriculture products, processed foods.
In Sri Lanka…
There are different types of agritourism in Sri Lanka. They mainly focus on educational, recreational, and income as well. Here are the main categories of agritourism in Sri Lanka; Food production (vegetable farm, orchards), Animal farms (poultry, fish farm, cattle farm), Plants and gardens (Greenhouse), Annual festivals related to agriculture( farmer day), and camping.
Popular locations for agritourism include the locations in the Central, Uva, and Southern provinces of the country for paddy cultivation and other cultivations like tea, rubber, and coconut. However, the hill country is also a top pick for vegetable and dairy farming.
Sri Lanka provides many attractive places full of activities related to agriculture which gives you a wonderful experience; offers great insight into the agricultural practices, some traditional and others more modern. You can watch paddy being cultivated or harvested and you can engage in those activities as well, visit the plant and seed nurseries; commercial vegetable farms, orchards, dairies and tea plantations. Trek through acres of cultivation, watch the people at work and try your hands at some of the tasks, climb up to the treehouse which is used as a watchtower and finally learn how the product is processed and packed. Enjoy a wholesome local meal and end the day with a visit to a home garden to observe organic cultivation and production of compost fertilizer.
Agro Technology Park – Bata Atha which is located in Hambantota, Southern Province where you can experience low country dry zone farming, Agro Technology Park – SeethaEliya located in Nuwera Eliya where you can experience upcountry wet zone farming, Ambewela Dairy Farm, and some eco-friendly hotels can be given as places which are contributed to agritourism.
Benefits of Agritourism
Agritourism is mainly practiced with a focus on rural areas. Therefore it attracts tourists to rural communities for a form of relaxation that follows the growing trend of tourism that is both educational and recreational. Also, it is another option for farmers wanting to diversify their farming operations that will bring more economic activities to rural areas.
Generally, the image of tourism stimulates mass-produced travel that attracts a large number of travelers. This image of mass tourism may discourage small entrepreneurs who consider tourism as an alternative option for enhancing their revenues. However, agritourism Further, Agritourism is a direct marketing activity that provides additional opportunities to farmers to reduce risks involved in farming via diversification in a competing and urbanizing economic environment. While farmers get separate income from agritourism products that they sell to the visitors, they are more riskless than expecting income from one operation that is merely farming. Agritourism provides supplementary income for the farmer apart from farming and also helps to keep continuous cash flow all around the year including the off-season.
This will be a great solution for the unemployment in rural communities. It helps in the prevention of migrating rural populations to the urban areas seeking jobs and because of it, rural development is ensured.