An M.Sc, Manoj Hadawale, quit his job as an agriculture officer in a leading public sector bank. His aim was to start a business in agri- tourism as it has vast potential in the country, especially Maharashtra. In agri-tourism one gets the experience of real rural life, gets to taste the local food and get familiar with various farming activities.
Hadawale, the founder of Parashar Agri-tourism and member of the Maharashtra State Agri & Rural Tourism (MART), tells DNA about the role played by the government in promoting this sector and the demands put forth by MART to promote agri-tourism, in the state.
Is the state government playing a proactive role for promoting
agri-tourism in the state?
Although the 2005 tourism policy had highlighted the need to give fillip to this sector, the state government has done very little. This despite the fact that there are abundant opportunities in this sector that could boost the rural economy. Sadly, the state government has not done anything to promote it. There are 150 agri-tourism centres in the state and all these centres are running without any government help.
What are the demands of MART to promote agri-tourism in the state?
We have been requesting that the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) organise frequent events and expos to give the right platform to this sector in the state to attract tourists.
The state government has to subsidise agri-tourism so that it can thrive. Unless this sector is accepted as a part of mainstream tourism, it would be difficult for those involved in this sector to promote it. Recently MART functionaries had a meeting with the Union tourism ministry. MART has been assured that the ministry would take some concrete steps in its tourism policy of 2012 to promote agri-tourism.
How did you come up with the idea of starting agri-tourism in Junnar district?
I quit my job in SBI as I wanted to pursue a career in agri-tourism. Since I hail from a rural area, I used to show my city friends around my village. Though in the rural area farming is the main occupation of most of the people, agri-tourism provides ample employment opportunities to the rural youth. So, I started Parashar Agri-tourism in Rajuri village in Junnar district.
What is the reason for selecting Rajuri for starting agri-tourism?
Rajuri is known as a green belt and it is also known as the sanatorium of India since the British era. It has also been declared as a leopard reserve. Moreover, Asia’s largest telescope, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), is located nearby. During the monsoon the whole area turns lush green and one can enjoy the scenic beauty.
We also showcase folk arts forms such as povada, jagaran-gondhal for the visitors so that they get acquainted with the local culture.