Jul 1, 2018-Heritage buildings, jungle safaris, adventure trekking and mountaineering are major tourist attractions in Nepal, but now, the government has piloted an agro tourism village offering vacations in farms to attract more tourists.
Few private firms like Banana Resort in Tikapur, Ostrich Nepal in Rupandehi and some tea farms in Ilam have been successful in establishing the agro tourism concept.
However, this is the first time the government has been promoting agro tourism. Agro tourism is a vacation in which hospitality is offered on farms where activities may include helping out and learning about farming, picking fruits and vegetables, fishing, testing local foods and enjoying traditional and local cultures. It gives tourists the opportunity to buy local produces. This activity helps to lift the socio economic condition of the rural areas by creating employment opportunities and additional markets for the rural products.
The Agriculture Ministry said that five community-based agro tourism villages would be developed this fiscal year in Machhamara in Sunsari, Ghodaghadi in Kailali, Patle in Solukhumbu, Rautamai in Udaypur and Kakani in Nuwakot.
The location of the agro tourism operation should ideally feature easy transportation facilities and have a good natural background. Normally, urban tourists are interested in enjoying nature and the rural life.
The agro tourism villages in the five selected areas involves 75 households. The government has launched the community-based agro tourism village for the first time targeting tourists who like greenery, quiet and calm natural environment, said Shankar Sapkota, deputy spokesperson of the ministry.
“It has been piloted in five areas and the number will be increased gradually if it becomes successful.” The project has been implemented by Vegetable Development Directorate under the Agriculture Ministry.
The government will promote the agro tourism as “Modern Green Tour Village” and under the programme, each selected firms will receive grant of Rs2.5 million to develop basic infrastructure like sanitation, roads and upgrading the quality of accommodation in the areas where the programme will be implemented.
The selected five firms have been given a deadline to complete the infrastructure by this fiscal year, ending mid-July. However, some firms said that it was difficult to complete the project within the given deadline due to monsoon. “We have selected more than 80 houses to run homestay under the project but we are facing difficulties to complete them on time,” said Jibnath Subedi, propritor of Friday Homestay and Oragnic in Nuwakot that is promoting kiwi fruits. Subedi said that the project has partnered with a number of houses that were damaged during the 2015 earthquake for homestay and they have been receiving the housing reconstruction grants.
“Apart from the houses, due to monsoon, it is difficult to transport goods and develop other infrastructure.”
Subedi, however, said that if the government extended the deadline until September, he could complete the project. Tourist movement also begins after September. The firms that have received the grant are monitored by the Agriculture and Finance ministries.