You probably haven’t given it much thought but Agritourism is a very important factor in growing the agricultural economy in Nigeria.
Did you know that the United Nations World Tourism Organizations records tourism as one of the largest industries in the world surpassing such industries as oil exports, food products or automobiles?
If you are not absolutely blown away by that fact, it would interest you to know that tourists arrive every 30 seconds in different countries around the world, putting the number at one (1) billion tourist arrivals in the world every year. That number is expected to increase by 60% by the Year 2020.
Why exactly should these figures concern us? It’s simple.
The more we encourage agricultural tourism visits to Nigeria, the more we enjoy the benefits that tourism brings to any country; in this case, it would be directed towards agriculture – a sector with a most promising future in Nigeria.
What’s There to Tour in Nigeria’s Agriculture Ecosystem?
This post, Rice Farming: From the Plot to Your Plate details the rigorous process rice goes through before it lands on your plate. Imagine how interesting it would be to see the steps mentioned in this post come to live on a tour…
What Exactly Are the Benefits of Agritourism in Nigeria?
To get a clear sense of expected benefits from agritourism, let’s define the term.
Wikipedia defines Agritourism as any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. What is more interesting is Wikipedia notes that Agritourism has different definitions in different parts of the world, and sometimes refers specifically to farm stays, or elsewhere as a wide variety of activities, including buying produce directly from a farm stand, navigating a corn maze, slopping hogs, picking fruit, feeding animals, or staying at a bed and breakfast (B&B) on a farm.
Here are the benefits that can be expected from a growth in Agritourism:
1. Increase Cash Flow: agritourism otherwise known as agro-tourism or agriculture tourism would undoubtedly inject significant cash into the local economy. If tourists have to visit different locations, they would need to spend money on transportation, hotel, food, and buy souvenirs to take back to their home country.
2. Smarter Ideas: one of the benefits of agritourism is the exchange of ideas that usually lead to an improved way of doing things. Encouraging agritourism will bring people from different parts of the world who would share their own ideas with farmers and Agric researchers. This can lead to an improvement in the Agric sector. Agritourism breaks cultural barriers and encourages innovation.
3. Global Recognition of Different Regions: another benefit of agritourism is that it not only puts a country on the map, it also shines the spotlight on states and local region who do not enjoy as much international exposure. This exposure encourages more tourist visits and may open up opportunities for farmers to gain investors attention.
4. Job Creation: decent work and economic growth is Number 8 on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as set by the United Nations. Agritourism is a great way to create new jobs for locals. Jobs that can arise as a result of increased agritourism activities include tour guide jobs, new hotels, and may even lead to a long-term benefit such as tarred roads and public buses for easy transportation.
5. Promotion of Local Products: usually when tourists go on agricultural visits, they are so excited to participate in activities either because it’s new to them or because they don’t get to do it all the time. For example, it’s not every time you get to milk cows or eat honey directly from a beehive 🙂
At the end of the visit, tourists would usually like to buy souvenirs to take back to their home country to show how much fun they had on the trip or their learning experiences.
6. Innovative Startups: what happens when a particular sector starts to thrive? You guessed it! It attracts young, brilliant minds to create innovative startups that further disrupts that sector. A brilliant example of a disruptor is Yours Truly, Farmcrowdy, a platform that allows anyone anywhere in the world to start farming and empower rural farmers.
It’s sort of like how Facebook opened the door for several social media platforms to spring up.
A surge in agrotourism would have the same viral effect and would, you guessed it again, lead to an increase in job creation.
How To Increase Agritourism in Nigeria
Here are some of the ways that we can attract agritourists:
1. Government Efforts: No doubt, the government has a huge role to play in the growth of Agrotourism and in Agriculture in general either through setting favourable policies or supporting rural farmers with funding and making it easier for tourists to visit.
This research by FN Nnadi and CD Akwiwu recommends that for agro-tourism to contribute to rural development in Nigeria, the national policy on tourism should be reviewed to be trendy with modern tenets. Also, private initiative and involvement in tourism should be encouraged. Nominal compilation of actual and potential agro-tourism sites in the nation should be undertaken in addition to launching extension education campaign on agro-tourism.
2. Attract Tourists with Videos: have you seen those ads? The ones that say “Visit Dubai” or “South Africa Tourism?” They capture the essence of the country by showing the rich historic culture of the country, tourists visiting, and hospitality. We can adapt this same strategy to agritourism. By promoting videos that show the beauty of Agriculture, we can attract people from other countries to tour our rich agricultural landscape.
3. Social Media: A great tool for creating new connections, building relationships, communication and sharing information, social media can go a long way in promoting agritourism in Nigeria. Another big benefit of social media is you can promote any message to millions of people around the world for free (from your personal, corporate or friend’s account) or at a quarter of the cost compared to what it would cost if you were using other media.
Individuals can organize social media campaigns to promote their agritourism business while engaging with those interested on a personal level. Likewise, organizations can leverage social media influencers to promote attractive agritourism packages to their followers.
Social media channels include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Blogs, Social networking sites like Reddit, Photo, and Video sharing sites like Youtube, and many more.
4. Preserve: Civilization and the influx of tourists to a certain region will lead to diversity and pulling old structures to erect new ones. While this is certainly geared towards growth, it may be best to preserve certain environments, tools, and processes in order to retain intrigue. Once the Agri environment no longer holds any intrigue or things that people haven’t seen before in their countries, it will be hard to hold their interest and encourage a repeat visit.
5. Incentivize: Another way to promote agriculture tourist activities is to use incentives. Incentives have long been used as a promotion tool for businesses and if your business is going to benefit from agritourism, you can put together a program that would entice tourists to patronize your business. An example of such incentive is a loyalty program, discount or tourist pack which can include personal items like tour brochure, torch, toothbrush, etc.
6. Education: The stunted growth of agritourism or agrotourism in Nigeria can be largely blamed on lack of enlightenment and education programs on the benefits of tourism. If a farmer or people in the agriculture value chain can see the immense benefit of attracting tourist to their business, then they will be more receptive to creatively attracting tourist attention.
The “Other” Side of Agritourism
There are also negative impacts of agritourism and they must be acknowledged in other for us to create a solution or manage it appropriately. Some of the negative impacts include:
1. Pollution: Agritourism, though beneficial for any country can also lead to increase in pollution. Tourism contributes to more than 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with transportation accounting for 90 percent.
2. Safety: Safety is so important and this can be addressed from different angles, but the most important information is the more influx of people in the country, the more the country that is being visited need to tighten security. Also, an increase in dependency on the funds being generated through agritourism, the more an unexpected event that happens in the tourist country affects the country they are visiting.
3. Overtourism: having too many tourists in the country can lead to a term called “overtourism” where natural resources are consumed and competited for, and where tourists outnumber residents.
Agro-Tourism for Economic Growth
A major benefit of Agro-tourism is that it leads to a significant injection of cash into the agricultural ecosystem.
Whether its recreation, direct agricultural sale or educational experiences, here are some agritourism activities and some of the ways in which agro-tourism generates income for agricultural enterprises:
- Horseback riding
- Wildlife viewing & photography
- Fee fishing
- Camping/picnicking (combined)
- Fee hunting
- Cross-country skiing
- Game preserve
- Off-road vehicles
- School tours
- Garden/nursery tours
- Winery tours
- Agricultural technical tours
- Historical agriculture exhibits
- Agricultural manufacturing company tour
- Micro-brewery tours
- Exotic animal farm
- On-farm sales
- Roadside stand
- Agriculture-related crafts/gifts
- Bed & breakfast inn
- Farm/ranch vacations
- Guest ranch
- Youth exchange
- Concerts or special events
- Festivals or fairs
- Petting zoo
- Hunting/working dog trials/training
- Guide/outfitter operation
- Farmers’ market
- And many more
Agritourism is by and large, beneficial to any economy and its time we explore this sector.