The Bold Voice of J&K

Agri-tourism; concept, scope, strategies

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Tourists, especially those, who are versed with agriculture, are often able to tour the farm, help out with farm chores, have meals with the farm family and genuinely experience their life on the farm.
Scope of Agri-Tourism in Jammu and Kashmir
Although at present, Agri-Tourism in Jammu and Kashmir is on small scale, has low impact and is mostly education focused yet it has lot of potential. It is because, the Jammu and Kashmir has been blessed with varying climate-ranging from sub-tropical, sub-temperate, temperate and cold a rid types, responsible for horticulture production besides agriculture.
Horticulture is one of the main agricultural practices in Jammu and Kashmir. Basically, horticulture is the science of cultivating gardens or orchards, that is, it refers to the process of cultivation of fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants. Fruits and vegetables are rich source of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates etc; which are essential in human nutrition. Hence, these are referred to as protective foods and assumed great importance as nutritional security of the people. Fruits and vegetables are not only used for domestic consumption and processing into various products (Pickles, preserves, sauces, jam jelly, squash etc.) but also substantial quantities are exported infresh and processed form, bringing much needed foreign exchange for the state. These groups of crops also provide ample scope for achieving balance and serving as diversified agriculture vis-à-vis Agri-Tourism.
“Floating Gardens of Dal Lake in Kashmir Valley are one of the versatile example of Agri-Tourism, where not only visit local residents of Srinagar for purchasing of organic vegetables but also a number of tourists enjoy these sights. Some of them are very keen to know about the base and mechanism that acts as a soil for growing these vegetables. Quite similar to floating gardens of Dal Lake in Kashmir, the saffron growing fields in Pampore, Pattan and Sombur of Kashmir attract the tourists during saffron flowers bloom for about three to four weeks from mid-October to the first week of November.
Saffron growers in the remote mountainous district of Kishtwar in Jammu region also grow the best saffron and can be attracted by the tourists. Although the tourism industry has been hit hard after the long years of violence yet the tourism department is planning to revive the tradition to celebrate saffron festival. Apart from this, the Government now plans to organize more festivals on sustainable tourism including Agri-Tourism. For this purposes following strategies is required to be undertaken:
Grow More Strawberry and Cherry: Under suitable conditions fruit growers must grow strawberry and cherry as tourists relish local flavour as has been noticed in Kulu-Himachal Pradesh. Hundreds of farmers in Kulu district are growing cherry and strawberry and selling them to tourists and earning good profit.
Organising of More J&K Food Festivals: It is pertinent to mention that recently food festivals organized at Dilli Hall, New Delhi and Hotel Raddisan, Agra by Tourism Department of Jammu and Kashmir, have not only attracted the tourists to state and displaying culture of all the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir but has also yielded good amount of revenue. There is no denying fact that organized tourism needs to be promoted in the state, especially in Jammu region and Ladakh withmore stress on Agri-Tourism, which still have lagged behind.
Intensification of Agroforestry: Our villages are degrading with the degradation of the forests around them. Forests are the main stay of village economy and shattering of village economy with the degradation of forests is a natural consequence. Besides rehabilitation of forests around villages it is equally or even more important that the rural trees are also taken care of. Agroforestry practices have to be intensified which enable people to meet their primary needs-fodder, food, fuel wood, fruits etc.
Celebration of Spring Festival: A festival to welcome the onset of spring season, at the Badam Vaer (Almond alcove) along with a number of stalls displaying traditional handicraft product of Kashmir and setting of traditional food stalls of Kashmir, is marked by a number of tourists. Tourists enjoy very much by eating a food stuffs prepared from various food grains, vegetables and fruits.
Touring During Monsoon
As during the monsoon, the atmosphere remains dust free and cool, opening the pores of the body to the maximum so this is the best time of touring especially in the Jammu region. The sub-mountainous area of Jammu locally called Kandi belt is very well allured by the tourists during monsoon owing to mango and jaman fruits season. Similarly, Bhadarwah and Kishtwar areas can be attracted by the tourists during monsoon period due to availability of apple fruit.

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