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    prospecting-agritourism-in-ilam prospecting-agritourism-in-ilam Document Transcript

    • Prospecting Agri-tourism in Ilam: Concept, Issues, Challenges, and Unlimited Opportunities. Table of contentDefinition of Agri-tourism........................................................................................................ 1Concept of Agri-tourism ........................................................................................................... 3Ilam a brief introduction in relation to Agri-tourism ................................................................ 4Concept of Agri-tourism in the context of Ilam........................................................................ 6Issues of Agri-tourism in the context of Ilam ........................................................................... 8Challenges for Agri-tourism in Ilam......................................................................................... 9 National and local level policy ............................................................................................. 9 Existing Infrastructure ........................................................................................................ 10 Identification of Agri-tourism products .............................................................................. 11 Package program................................................................................................................. 12 Tourism route...................................................................................................................... 12 Investment........................................................................................................................... 12 Awareness ........................................................................................................................... 13 Security ............................................................................................................................... 13 Trained Human Resources.................................................................................................. 13 Advertisement ..................................................................................................................... 14Unlimited Opportunities of Agri-tourism in Ilam.................................................................. 14 Geographical diversity ........................................................................................................ 14 Socio cultural diversity ....................................................................................................... 15 Existing infrastructure......................................................................................................... 15 Initiative from NGOs and line agencies.............................................................................. 15 Places and Products of Tourist Interest............................................................................... 16 Whole area of Ilam District............................................................................................. 16 Sericulture farming ......................................................................................................... 17 Citrus Pocket area ........................................................................................................... 17 Floriculture pocket area .................................................................................................. 17 Commercial Vegetable Production Pocket area ............................................................. 18 Apiculture pocket area .................................................................................................... 18 Agroforestry system........................................................................................................ 19 Traditional agriculture system ........................................................................................ 19 Area of Transformed agriculture .................................................................................... 20 Agri-produce transportation............................................................................................ 20 Milk Processing .............................................................................................................. 20 Periodic market of agri-produce ..................................................................................... 21 Agrobased small scale cottage industries ....................................................................... 22 Agro-processing Industries ............................................................................................. 23 Recent development in the field of tourism........................................................................ 24Conclusion .............................................................................................................................. 24References :..............................................................................Error! 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    • Prospecting Agri-tourism in Ilam: Concept, Issues, Challenges, and Unlimited Opportunities.Definition of Agri-tourismTourism has been flourished a lot within a couple of decade particularly the tourism sectorswhich are close to the nature or natural things have become the interest of much touristaround the world. Nature tourism, Eco-tourism, cultural tourism, and agri-tourism etc. aretaking pace along with the time and among them the agri-tourism has become much popularin recent years. The reason behind ever growing popularity of agri-tourism is that the humanbeing are closely related to agriculture and without it we certainly die of hunger, so peoplewho are more or less far from agriculture and related activities wish to watch, and experienceagricultural activities closely.Agri-tourism is composed of different two words viz. Agriculture and Tourism. Manyexperts and institutions have tried to define agri-tourism in different ways as per theirperception. Simply stated, agri-tourism could be thought of as the crossroads of tourism andagriculture. Stated more technically, “agri-tourism” can be defined as any business conductedby a farmer or processor for the enjoyment or education of the public to promote the productsof the farm and to generate additional farm income.The term could be similarly defined as a form of commercial enterprise that links agriculturalproduction and/or processing with tourism in order to attract visitors onto a farm, ranch, orother agricultural business for the purposes of entertaining and/or educating the visitors andgenerating income for the farm, ranch, or business owner. One scholar defines “agri-tourism”as “agricultural activities that feature educational and recreational activities in addition to thetraditional role as commodity production.” 1
    • The American Farm Bureau Federation has defined agri-tourism as:"An enterprise at a working farm, ranch or agricultural plant conducted for theenjoyment of visitors that generates income for the owner. Agricultural tourismrefers to the act of visiting a working farm or any horticultural or agriculturaloperation for the purpose of enjoyment, education or active involvement in theactivities at the farm or operation that also adds to the economic viability of thesite."Members of the Tennessee Agri-tourism Initiative defined agri-tourism as “an activity,enterprise or business that combines primary elements and characteristics of Tennesseeagriculture and tourism and provides an experience for visitors that stimulates economicactivity and impacts both farm and community income.”9 Agri-tourism is occasionallyreferred to as “agri-tourism,” “agrotourism,” “farm tourism,” “agricultural tourism,” oragritainment.”Thus, agricultural Tourism: Refers to the act of visiting a working farm or anyagricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation for the purpose of enjoyment,education, or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation.Agricultural tourism is a new field which allows people to experience the cycle oflife, the growth of plants, the birth and death of animals. It is successful because ittakes us back to a culture that was one of oneness with our environment. Peoplecared for animals, placed their seeds in the grown, harvested their crops. Peopleworked together to harvest crops. It was a time of great effort, yet great joy andaccomplishment.Agriculture tourism enterprises include things such as farm tours, farm stands, u-pick farms,hunting clubs, vineyard weddings, old-fashioned cattle brandings, trail rides, and farm stays.It also entails a commercial operation working toward its visitor’s enjoyment, understanding,and appreciation of natural areas while conserving the local ecological, social, and culturalvalues. It incorporates aspects of cultural, historical, place based experiences that areauthentic and homegrown. 2
    • Concept of Agri-tourismAgri-tourism is a hybrid concept that merges elements of two complex industries—agriculture and travel/tourism—to open up new profitable markets for farm products andservices and provide travel experiences for a large regional market. Although a singledefinition of agri-tourism is not widely recognized, it is at the intersection of a number ofimportant marketing and economic development concepts that are circulating today. Agri-tourism is unlikely to be the dominant sector of agriculture in most areas, but it may play asignificant support role for many agricultural enterprises. Figure 1 shows the centralrelationship, agri-tourism has to alternative agriculture, value-added production, direct farmmarketing, and, ultimately, rural community development. Figure 1. Agriculture and Figure 2. Tourism and agri-tourism Complete agri. Temporary Alternative Value added destination attraction or agriculture agriculture special events Agri-tourism Agri-tourism Part of a large non Part of a large Rural Direct farm agriculture agriculture oriented community marketing oriented destination Development destinationIn general, agri-tourism is the practice of attracting travelers or visitors to an area or areasused primarily for agricultural purposes. Very often, the idea of tourism stimulates images ofmass-produced travel that attracts a large number of travelers. These images may discouragesmall business owners from considering tourism as an option for enhancing their agriculturerevenues. However, agri-tourism can be viewed much like eco-tourism in that it is small-scale, low-impact, and, in most cases, education-focused.An increasing number of farm businesses are opening their doors to visitors today. Farmtours, farm-based Bed and Breakfast operations, farm vacations, seasonal festivals, and otherforms of agri-tourism are attracting growing numbers of local, regional and even 3
    • international visitors. Agri-tourism enterprise can be a profitable and enjoyable undertakingfor some farmers, diversifying the business and creating employment for family membersand others.Agri-tourism also represents a real opportunity for economic development in somecommunities. The agri-tourism industry is relatively undeveloped in Nepal compared to othercountries where it is extremely popular among vacationers. It is one alternative for improvingthe incomes and potential economic viability of small farms and rural communities. It hasbeen part of farming in Europe for centuries. Farmers in the USA are finding thatagricultural tourism can help them keep their lands and their way of life. There are manyopportunities for strengthening agri-tourism in Nepal, locally, on the regional level, andnational level. Enhancing cooperation among agri-tourism businesses, connecting agri-tourism with other forms of tourism, creating cooperative promotional programs, building aninternational presence for Nepal agri-tourism, and providing business development assistanceand support for new agri-tourism enterprises are among the strategies that could be pursued.Ilam a brief introduction in relation to Agri-tourismIlam is theeasternmost hilldistrict of Nepaland is bordered bythe Indian state ofWest Bengal in theeast and by Jhapa, aNepal terai district,in the south. In thenorth and west isPanchthar, anotherhill district of 4
    • Nepal. The district headquarters town, Ilam bajar, is at an altitude of 1,200 mMSL. With ageographical area of 1,717 sq.km., extending from 260.40′ to 270.8′ north latitude and870.40′ to 880.10′ east longitude, the district is divided into 48 VDCs and one municipality.The altitude ranges from 250 meter to 3636 meter above from the sea level. The district hasthree clear geographical divisions in terms of altitude: a tropical region boardering with theterai in the south below 1,000 m. a sub tropical region in the middle of the district withaltitude ranging between 1,000-1,800 m. and a temperate region with altitude of 1,800 m andabove. The average annual rainfall of the district is 250 cm and more than 80% precipitationoccurs during June to September. The total population of Ilam is 282,822 and populationgrowth rate is 2.10% (population census - 2058). The table below shows the total landgeographical status and land use of Ilam. Geography Total land area (ha) Total Agriculture Pasture Forest Others High hill 95 0 5182 0 5197 Mid hill 62711 3398 51526 1832 119467 Siwalik 3993 0 38268 2602 44863 Terai 738 0 942 418 2198 Total 67537 3398 95918 4852 171725 (source: land resource mapping project, 1987)Ilam is charming because it is unspoiled by modernity, pollution and urban bustle. It ismulticultural, and multiethnic district. It is very rich in terms of natural, cultural andenvironmental perspective. Ilam has various natural resources, green forests, rivers, lakes,mountains, holy sites, tea gardens and hospitablepeople, and above all the diverse agriculture. Beingthese all assets, Ilam can provide an ecotourism aswell as the agri-tourism destination for thepurposive tourist around the world.Agriculture is the mainstay of Ilam and 88.77% ofthe total population depends upon agriculture. 5
    • Only 39.32% of the total land is cultivated in which only 13% of cultivated land hasirrigation facility. Crop farming and livestock are the major agricultural sectors. Ilamsynonymously known as the district of Six ‘As’ - Aalu (potato), Alaichi (cardamom), Aduwa(ginger), Akabare khursani (red round big chilly), Olan (milk and milk product), and Amliso(broom). Besides, it is the district of tea, silk, bamboo, flower, and agroforestry. The teagarden has become prime source of income and beauty for the district as a whole. So, Ilamhas become the center of study about tea. Likewise, silk, milk/milk products, bamboo, cutflower, and varieties of seasonal and off-season vegetables are source of income for thedistrict. The farmers of Ilam have got multiple opportunities. They are laborious andindependent which teaches us to be hard working and independent. Tourists around the worldand internal tourist as well come to Ilam to observe the traditional and the transformedagricultural activities as well as to interact with farmers regarding various agriculture Thus,Ilam has a high potentiality of agriculture based tourism and researches.Concept of Agri-tourism in the context of IlamThe flow of tourist in Ilam is significantly highsince long. Among the visitors nearly 90% are trulyfor agriculture related business. Some want to learnthe farming techniques of different cash crops thatare widely grown in Ilam, some are brokers relatedto agriculture produce marketing, some are relatedto agro-industries, and so on. The others tourist whoare basically not intended to see agriculture alsoshow interest to observe agriculture activities in their rest time while stay in Ilam. Thus, theagriculture related tourism contribute major sector in the overalltourism in Ilam.Though the agriculture related tourism was in existence since long, theterm agri-tourism is new concept for Ilam. Because in previous timeall types of the agriculture related business were considered asdifferent from tourism. In recent year, considering the significantcontribution of agriculture sector in overall tourism and the high feasibility of agriculture 6
    • related tourism in Ilam district the concept of agri-tourism came in existence. The strongbases behind this concept are as follow • The people of Ilam have been considering the tourists as god, because all have faith in a key Mantra “Atithi Devo Bhava” ( in English Guests are like god) • The flow of tourist in Ilam is considerable. The tourist from India and abroad and internal tourist visit Ilam for different agriculture related purposes. • Agriculture is the mainstay of Ilam and 88.77% of the total population are true farmers and are entirely depending upon agriculture as a major livelihood. • The geography of Ilam enables the district to grow wide variety of crops from terai to high hills. • Ilam is unspoiled by modernity, pollution and urbanization. Therefore, it is the best destination for the nature and natural beauty lovers. • Ilam is the district of 6 ‘A’s- Alu, Olan, Alainchi, Aduwa, Amliso, Akabare khursani. • There are some pocket areas in western Ilam where modern agriculture have not yet introduced, those areas have been still practicing the traditional agriculture system. Those areas may be the appropriate destination of the tourist from developed countries. • Ilam has infrastructures enough to develop agri-tourism. The black topped road that links the district with other part of Nepal, urban and rural electrification, communication, accommodation facilities, and information centers etc. are in good condition. • In the east Ilam the agriculture system has been totally transformed. Farmers are growing high value cash crops for exporting to abroad. Variety of export cash crops and the cultivation techniques may be the interest of many tourist who are using those products but havent yet seen the farming. • In almost all VDCs there is at least a small cottage industry based in agriculture and/or animal husbandry. • In Ilam all VDCs have been linked with the district head quarter with at least fair weather road. Therefore, the tourist who cant walk can use vehicle for visiting around. 7
    • • The farmers of Ilam are innovative, workaholic, hospitable and always eager to welcome tourists. • Almost all houses in the village have separate guest room which can provide appropriate accommodation for tourists. • Traditional knowledge of cultivation, post harvest activities, NRM practices, and traditional technology and equipments are unique products for tourism. • The eye catching views of tea gardens are the added advantage for tourism.Issues of Agri-tourism in the context of IlamBecause of the appropriate infrastructures, agricultural bases, peoples perception towardtourism etc. the agri-tourism in Ilam has been flourishing in rapid rate. At the same time thereare various issues which are directly and indirectly influencing the development of agri-tourism both from positive and negative aspect. The major issues of agri-tourism in Ilam areas follow. • Considering the high feasibility of agri-tourism, it should be prioritized by all level stakeholders. • Despite of large flow of agriculture related tourist the farmers and other concerned are unable to take appropriate advantage. • The tourists have been benefited from the acquired knowledge from the local farmers but in return farmers are getting nothing which is totally undesirable. In addition, there is still a fear of piracy of the local technologies, crop varieties and several practices. • The district does not have master plan for the development of agri-tourism in Ilam. The prime stake holder i.e. DDC should be responsible for formulating master plan and related local policy, action plan, and strategy for agri-tourism development. • The hotels, lodges in the district head quarters and other major towns are getting good income from the agri-tourism. But the hotel and lodges have not been providing appropriate services to the tourists in the absence of hotel management related trainings and skilled human resources. • Advertisement, proposition, and information center at local level is lacking. • Appropriate products for agri-tourims have not yet been identified. 8
    • Challenges for Agri-tourism in IlamDespite a lot of potentialities of agri-tourism, its development is not satisfactory to date.Although Nepal Tourism Board has identified Ilam as one of the destinations for tourists, thenumber of tourist especially from foreign is not increasing in an expected manner. The majorchallenge is to increase the number of tourists who come to visit Ilam especially foragriculture related purpose. There are various reasons behind this challenge which aredescribed below.National and local level policyDespite of long history and evidence of agri-tourism in Nepal, the Government of Nepal hasnot yet recognized the agri-tourism as feasible and potential sector of tourism. So, thenational and regional policies, and strategies regarding agri-tourism have not yet formulated.The national level prime stakeholders i.e. Ministry of Tourism and Nepal Tourism arerecently giving due consideration toward conceptualizing, and popularizing agri-tourism inNepal but in the absence of national policy they are experiencing difficulty in exertingmeaningful effort in the same.To develop the agri-tourism it needs a long term and visionary perspective plan, but inlacking policy and strategy it is also impossible to develop such plan as the line agencies donot want to involve in the same and it is not possible from private sectors only. It needscollaborative effort which is only possible when the government formulates and implementsappropriate policies regarding agri-tourism.The Department of Environmental Science, IAAS (DES, IAAS) has been offering course inagri-ecotourism and at the same time it has been advocating and conceptualizing of the same.After several efforts by DES, IAAS, recently the Ministry and NTB have recognized the termagri-tourism as appropriate sector for Nepal tourism and have placed in the priority-1 level.The lacking national policy has been adversely affecting the development of agri-tourism inIlam because the local government, district and regional level line agencies have beenhesitating to exert effort for agri-tourism development in Ilam. Besides, the private sectorsare also in confusion and undecided whether to invest in this sector or not. 9
    • Existing InfrastructureAppropriate infrastructure is essential for the development of agri-tourism thereby attractingthe international as well as domestic tourists. The all season road, good accommodationfacilities, tour operating agencies, good communication facilities, appropriate products, andtouring package are the desired infrastructures for agri-tourism. In Ilam the condition theseinfrastructures are not that much satisfactory.Many VDCs which are much feasible from agri-tourism view point are not accessiblethroughout the year. Though all the VDCs have fair weather road, it is difficult to reachduring rainy season. In addition, the lacking permanent bridge again create problem ingetting to these remote area. The condition of horse trails and foot trails are also poor duringas these become muddy because of frequent and heavy rain during the entire rainy season.Communication facility is another felt problem in the district. Recently all VDCs areconnected with telephone facility but remote areas of VDCs are still out of the same. Themobile telephone services provided by Nepal Telecommunication and Mero Mobile are outof network coverage in most of the VDCs. Similarly inaccessibility of email and internetfacilities in most of the VDCs is another problem for the development of agri-tourism in thewhole district.Accommodation facility is another major infrastructure that determines the development ofagri as well as other sectors of tourism. The local hotels and lodges are not that muchprofessional in terms of services and facilities. in addition, the existing hotel and lodge arenot enough to accommodate large number of tourist at a time. Though the houses intransboundary VDCs have been accommodating tourist in their own houses the ruralhouseholds in western Ilam do not have tradition of keeping tourist home stay and as payingguests. Similarly there is no guest houses and other accommodation facilities offered by localorganisations and government.Information center is essential to get various informations as per the interest of tourists. InIlam there is no well functioned information center. The information center established by 10
    • Ilam Municipality does not have much information in the absence of human resources,database etc. Another information center is run by a religious forest groups at MaipokhariIlam which can not provide the information of whole district. Some NGO like Ilam SarokarManch has taken initiative to establish information center but it is not regular and notupdated too.Tour operating agencies are essential to make the tourism package appropriately coordinatedand organized. In whole district there is no existence of even a single tour operating agency.Till date the agencies from Kathmandu, Pokhara and Darjeeling of India have been bringinginternational tourist to Ilam and domestic tourist have been approaching freely withoutassistance of tour operating agencies. The outside tour operating agencies are not muchfamiliar with Ilam so, they are unable to explain and show Ilam perfectly.Souvenir Shops (Koseli Ghar) are essential to present the famous and unique local productsfor sale. Tourists, when go back to their place want to bring some local products as perinterests. Recently in Ilam the number of souvenir shops has been in increasing trend but allare concentrated to Ilam Bazar. There is no even a single souvenir shop outside of Ilambazar. The existing souvenir shops are also not much professional and are found a bit weak interms of selecting tourism products, dealing with tourists etc.Identification of Agri-tourism productsIlam is blessed with a wide varieties of agri-tourism products throughout the district. Almostall area within Ilam are unique in terms of crops, way of farming, agri-technology, agri-equipments, marketing and other agri-related activities. Despite of these the feasible agri-tourism products have not yet been documented and identified. To invite tourist, it isnecessary to present tourism product to the tourists but in the absence of proper identificationit is quite impossible.All the tourists dont have the same interest, some want to observe one thing and others wantdifferent. Interest of tourist differ from person to person, so, survey at fixed interval isessential to know the variety of interest which, later help to identify the agri-tourismproducts. But there is no evidence of such survey conducted by related stakeholders at central 11
    • and local level. This situation has resulted in feasible agri-tourism products remainunidentified.Package programIt is essential to increase the duration of tourist stay, if we want to earn good incomefrom tourist. Appropriate package program is a must to retain tourist for a longerperiod. The package program should include the program as per tourist interest.In the absence of tour operating agencies at local level and agri-tourism products,it is difficult to develop the package tour program. Despite of wide variety of tourismproducts, places of tourists interest the package tour program for Ilam have not yetbeen developed.Tourism routeIt is not possible to show all the places and products in a single package because oftime limit, interest of tourists, facilities etc. Therefore, tourism route is essentialfor coverage of maximum places and products in a single package. Single route isnot sufficient as there is limitation of accommodation, travel, communication facilitiesin the district. Therefore, as much as possible tourism route is essential for thedevelopment of agri-tourism. Ilam Sarokar Manch has developed a possible tourismroute for the district before a couple of year with a view to developing eco-tourism inIlam. Though that route covers some of the agriculture activities but does not coverthe whole. It needs to develop separate route exclusively for agri-tourism which islacking at present.InvestmentWithout appropriate infrastructure agri-tourism is quite impossible. Infrastructuredevelopment is quite costlier and seeks collaborative efforts. It needs investment from boththe government and private sectors. Because of the long political crisis, and unstable politicalsituation of the country both the government and private sectors have been hesitating toinvest in this sector. Especially the private sectors, because of security problem did not investeven a single penny to develop infrastructure. Now the situation is in improving trend butboth sectors have not yet invested as they are still in confusion and not confident from thesituation of country. 12
    • AwarenessMost of the tourism stakeholders and general people are not much familiar with the conceptof agri-tourism. As it is the new introduction in terms of definition, approach, modality etc, itshould be conceptualized among the related stakeholders and general mass. There is noevidence of any awareness program from the agencies who are involved in the developmentof this sector. Every farmers, tourism related stakeholders should no what it is but in theabsence of awareness program they are unaware and their perception toward agri-tourism isunoccupied. Because of this situation they are not advertising, advocating, and supportingagti-tourism promotion.SecuritySecurity of the tourist is the prime concern of the tour operating agencies and all relatedstakeholders. Because of the long political crisis of the country the security condition waspoor before a year. Now the condition has been changed but still security of the tourist is inquestions. At present new political, and ethnic parties and movements are mushrooming inthe national and local level which is creating serious question of security. The police posts inVDCs before the conflict period were removed during the conflict period which have not yetreestablished properly. There are various evidences of terror of donation, hijacking, theft etcfaced by international tourists. In such security crisis, neither tour operating agencies nortourist himself/herself want to be involved in touring,Trained Human ResourcesLike other type of tourism, agri-tourism is also depended on human resources. Tourists wantto get professional services as they are paying for it. Skilled human resources in hotelmanagement, guiding tour, and information center is essential for the promotion of the same.In Ilam there is no trained human resources in these field.Production of trained human resources is the responsibility of concerned agencies. But theyare not actively involved in organizing skill development trainings regarding tourism. At thesame time higher education institutes in Ilam have not yet offered academic course todevelop tourism related human resources at local level. 13
    • AdvertisementDespite high feasibility of agri-tourism, availability of agri- tourism products and places theadvertisement of the same is lacking. It needs appropriate advertisement to make possibletourist familiar about Ilam, its unique agri-tourism products, place of interest etc. so that theycan decide Ilam as possible destination. There are some advertisement by Nepal TourismBoard, DDC Ilam, Ilam Sarokar Manch and Ilam Shutra through electronic and printedmedia but that is not sufficient because of small coverage, inadequate information etc. Itneeds to develop separate website to advertise at global level thereby attracting agri-touristsacross the world. But such efforts have not yet been made from the related stakeholders.Unlimited Opportunities of Agri-tourism in IlamThe existing tourism status of the district, the existing infrastructures, and the existingagriculture scenario etc indicate that, Ilam will be the best destination for the tourists havinginterest in agriculture and related activities. Agri-tourism is already established tourismsector for Ilam, the only need is to promote it through collaborative effort from all levelstakeholders. Ilam has unlimited opportunities and scopes of developing agri-tourism whichcan be proved by the various features described below.Geographical diversityIlam is endowed with variety ofgeographical as well as numerous micro-climatic features. It is extended fromtropical to temperate zone having differentaspects and slopes. These situations haveenabled Ilam to grow variety of crops andto develop/follow location specificagriculture technology. Tourist can seedifferent crops at different places alongwith plantation/transplantation, intercultural operations, harvesting, post harvest processingetc. of variety of cereals, vegetables, fruits, spices, and cash crops. In addition, the different 14
    • types farm animals and animal farming techniques at different places may also be the interestof tourist.Socio cultural diversityIlam is diverse in terms of ethnicity, culture, tradition etc. which has been determining thecrop farming techniques as well as the farming types. For example Limbus are said to be thebest to grow and take care of different fruit variety, to construct irrigation canal in traditionalway and to make terrace in slope land. Rais are growing Ghiya Dhan (dryland rice), Bitterbuckwheat, Chindo etc. Most of the Brahmin and kshetri keeps cattle and produce milk andmilk produce. The so called untouchable as well as mongol farmers raise pigs, Gurungs areinvolved in sheep and duck farming, and Blacksmith prepare agriculture tools and equipmentto be used by others etc. They have their own belief, norms and tradition. All are living in thesame community with ethnic, cultural and agricultural harmony without interfering othersand this feature will be the interest of tourists.Existing infrastructureIlam has at least some existing infrastructures so it does not need to start developinginfrastructure from nil. The district is linked with black topped road, has communicationservices, accommodation facilities, information centre etc. and above all the strongagriculture bases. If the existing infrastructures are improved a bit it will certainly help attracttourists. In the changed political context of the countries the central and local governmentalong with the private sectors may invest in infrastructure development, if they areappropriately motivated.Initiative from NGOs and line agenciesSome NGOs namely Namsaling Community Development Centre (NCDC), Ilam, and IlamSarokar Manch have been involving in the promotion of tourism sectors since a couple ofyear. NCDC has incorporated agri-tourism promotion program in its project areasparticularly along the transboundary VDCs of Ilam. It has provided some support for thepromotion of the same. Similarly Ilam Sarokar Manch is involved in the trekking routedevelopment and advertisement of tourism which include agri-tourism too. These initiativesare really a positive step for the promotion of agri-tourism. Besides, recently the district levelline agencies like DADO, DLSO, DFO along with the District Development Committee has 15
    • been advocating for agri-tourism realizing the high feasibility of the same. Thus, theinvolvement of NGOs and line agencies in agri-tourism promotion will certainly yield apositive result.Places and Products of Tourist InterestIn Ilam, there exist wide varieties of agri-tourism products and places throughout the district.Following agri-tourism product may help to attract tourist in future.Whole area of Ilam DistrictIlam is famous for growing Tea,Cardamom, Zinger, Broom grass,Bamboo, Potato etc., and keepingfarm animals. These are foundeverywhere in the district. Thebroom grass, tea, cardamom etc.are not in commercial production inother part of the country and mostof the foreign country as well.Therefore, the users of theseproducts, who have not yet seen thecultivation and processingactivities may have interest toobserve these in field.Chayote is another widely grown vegetable for export and local use, this is uniquevegetable as no part goes waste. The technique of chayote farming is alsointeresting to see. Harvesting of tea leaves (plucking) is much interesting activity andthe people who see plucking definitely try to pluck tea leaves at once carrying basketon the back. 16
    • Sericulture farmingSericulture and silk cocoon production is another widelypracticed agriculture activities in Ilam. Twelve VDCs areexclusively sericulture farming belt of Ilam which includeSangrumba, Siddhithumka, Soyak, Godak, Ilam Municipality,Laxmipur, Chisapani, Danabari, Mahamai, Kolbung, Kanyam,and Samalbung. Farmers in these VDCs have been rearing bi-voltine silkworm that produces mulberry silk of world’s topquality. The mulberry farming, silkworm rearing, cocoonproduction and processing activities can be one of the best agri-tourism products in Ilam which may attract a large number of tourists who have not yet seenthe sericulture farming though they use silk fabric.Citrus Pocket areaIlam is also famous for the production of mandarin and lime.There are pocket areas for the production of mandarin whichcovers 6 VDCs namely Jirmale, Soyak, Sumbek, Namsaling,Laxmipur and Panchakanya VDCs. Mandarin is producedduring the winter season and is delivered to the local marketand is also exported to nearby Indian cities. The mandarinfarming, harvesting and transport are really an interesting to observe for all, so, it can attracttourist if advertised appropriately.Floriculture pocket areaFarmers of some VDCs ofIlam have been involving infloriculture and flowerbusiness. The widely grownflowers are Gladiolus,Gerbera, Anthurium,Begonia, Chrysenthemum, Azelia, Orchids, and Glorisa. The transboundary VDCs like 17
    • Gorkhe, Pashupatinagar, Sriantu, Samalbung, Fikkal are famous of producing flowers. The produce is exported to nearby Indian market like Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Siliguri. It is nice to see the cultivation and harvesting of flower which can definitely attract a large numbers of tourists.Commercial Vegetable Production Pocket areaSince last decade Ilam is producingvegetable to export to India. Normallythe VDCs which are linked with thehighway are producing vegetable incommercial scale. Puwamajhuwa,Godak, Kolbung, Irauntar,Panchakanya, Fikkal, Kanyam, Shantidanda, Sakhejung,Soyang VDCs can be visited to observe the vegetablefarming. Recently some areas are producing organicvegetable which is also interesting to see. Organic vegetablefarming can be observed in the rural area of Ilammunicipality and Laxmipur VDC.Apiculture pocket areaSome parts of Ilam are highly feasible for bee keeping and honey production. There are somepocket areas for producinghoney like Jirmale,Samalbung, Siddithumka,Irauntar, Laxmipur,Kolbung VDC where alarge number of farmers areinvolved in bee keeping. Both the traditional and the improved technology is being practiced 18
    • in these areas. The management of bee hives, honeyextracting activities in both the traditional and modern beekeeping are interesting activities for tourists and can easilyattract tourist in these areas.Agroforestry systemAgroforestry in Ilam is traditional practice for thefarmers, but it is new for the farmers of other areas. Ithas been well developed since long. Farmers have beengrowing several multi purpose tree species along thebund of cultivated land. Normally the tree specieswhich produce fodder, fruit, firewood, food etc areplanted for own use. The farmers from other part ofNepal come to Ilam to observe and learn agroforestrysystem. It can be observed in almost all VDCs withinIlam.Traditional agriculture systemThere are still some VDCs in western Ilam which areunspoiled by modern agriculture technology. The farmershave not yet used chemical fertilizer, pesticides, improvedseeds and agriculture appliances because of low levelawareness and inaccessibility to these inputs. The farmers are practicing true traditional system of agriculture. These areas can be visited to observe traditional agriculture technology, traditional crop varieties, 19
    • integration of animal husbandry and cropfarming, the traditional agroforestry and homegarden model, traditional agriculture equipmentsetc. and can attract tourists who are familiar onlywith modern agriculture system.Area of Transformed agricultureAgriculture system of Most of the VDCs in Ilam has been changed from traditional tomodern. How the transformation took place? It may be the subject of interest of manypeople. And how farmers adapted to changed context context and how they are consideringthe transformed agriculture in terms of crops, varieties, technology, processing etc may bethe interest of tourists. The transformed agriculture can be observed nicely in eastern, central,and southern Ilam.Agri-produce transportationTransportation of agri-product is another interestingactivity to observe. In laking road facility the produce istransported by horse and porter up to the collection centerlocated at road head. The caravan of horses carrying milkcanister in the morning is interesting to see. Similarly thegroups of people and horses carrying basket of tea leaves,mandarin, vegetables, zinger, broom are also noticeableactivities for tourists.Milk ProcessingIlam ranks highest position in easternNepal in terms of milk production andprocessing. Almost all farmers keepcattle and produce milk and deliveredto nearest milk collection center. Ilamhas been supplying milk to Biratnagar and also export to Calcutta, an Indian Metropolitan. 20
    • Ilam produce Cheese from cattle milk under Kanchan trade mark. There are around 13Cheese factories in different district. Cheese making is interesting activities and can beobserved in VDCs like Fikkal, Pashupatinagar, Maipokhari, Puwamajhuwa, and Chamaita.Ilam is also producing hard cheese (Chhurpi) from cattle milk. The hard cheese makingactivities can be observed all VDCs excluding the terai areas.Some VDCs like Fikkal, Pashupatinagar, Sakhejung are producing other milk products likechocolate, Bambaisan, Khuwa and these product making is also interesting to observe.The farmers of northern belt produce Seregam (solid whey prepared by coagulating whey)which is tasty to eat and can be store as such for longer period. This can be one of the agri-tourism productsBambaisan a sweet item prepared from milk is famous andunique milk product of Ilam. It is prepared in all sweet shopwithin Ilam which may be one of the productsfor agri-tourism.Butter is prepared almost every house through out thedistrict. Separation of butter from yogurt is also interestingto see.Periodic market of agri-produceIlam has traditional system of periodic market for selling and buying of agriculture produce.Almost all VDCs have such system. The market is operated in fixed interval like weekly infixed day, and fortnightly as well. A large number of farmers come to the market with theirproduce and sell them directly to the consumer. The farmers also buy other types ofagriculture produce as per need and non agriculture items as well. There is no existing ofmiddlemen/broker who takes unnecessary profit from both seller and buyer. This is uniquesystem and both the seller and buyer are benefited equally without being cheated. The name 21
    • of the market place is also given as per the marketing day, like Budhabare, Mangalbare,Sombare etc. This system of local market enhances the friendship, relation and harmonyamong the users. Such local market can be one of the tourism products for the tourist ofagriculture interest.Agrobased small scale cottage industriesBesides farming there are several small scale cottage industries which are entirely depend onthe agriculture for raw materials. Below are some of the cottage industries in rural areaswhich may attract tourists.Sweets from milk : Women groups in many VDCs are involved in the production of varioussweet items from milk. They are delivering the products to the local as well as externalmarket after appropriate packaging. Such activities can be observed in Ilam municipality,Sakhejung, Fikkal, Pashupatinagar VDCs.Hand made tea : Almost all tea grower within Ilam prepare hand made tea in their ownhouse for domestic as well as for selling in the market. The processing of tea is muchinteresting.Pickle from vegetable : Some women groups in Ilam municipalityand surrounding VDCs are involved in pickle production and sale.It is also interesting to see the pickle making process.Potato chips : The VDCs nearby Ilam municipality are producingpotato chips and delivering to the local market and outside. The traditional techniques ofchips making is interesting and can attract tourist.Noodles making : Many women in Fikkal, Pashupatinagar, Barbote VDCs and Ilammunicipality are involved in noodles making from wheat flour. The process is interestingactivities to see. 22
    • Gundruk and Sinki making : The southern belt of Ilam is producing gundruk and sinki incommercial scale. Gundruk and Sinki making activities is really an interesting activities andit can easily attract tourist. The Mahamai and Danabari VDCs are famous for makinggundruk and Sinki during the winter season.Brewing : In Ilam home made beer and alcohol (Jand and Raksi) is widely used. Almost allmongol households prepare Jand and Raksi in their houses for domestic use and for sale. Thefood grains, root crops, fruits and spices are used for the preparation of the same. It isinteresting to see this activities for foreigner who do not know the brewing method developedlocally.Use of crop residues and by-products : Farmers are producing nice mats and mattress byweaving paddy straw, maize sheath, wheat straw etc. Almost all households in rural areasprepare such things. The weaving activities is also interesting to see.Woolen product : The northern belt of Ilam is producing nice carpet made up of woolproduced locally. The spinning of woolen thread and weaving of carpet (RADI) is interestingactivities. Similarly many women groups are involved in the hosiery by producing woolensweater, shawl and other knit wears.Agro-processing IndustriesIlam has some industries for agro-processing in which teafactories and cheese factories are major. The processingto tea can be seen in Kanyam, Fikkal, Panchakanya,Sakhejung, Jitpur, Barbote, Chisapani, and DanabariVDCs and Ilam municipality. Tea processing isinteresting to see and can attract tourists easily. Similarlythe cheese production in Pashupatinagar, Puwamajhuwa,and Maipokhari can also attract tourists. 23
    • Recent development in the field of tourismRecently the Ministry of Tourism, Nepal Tourism Board, and District DevelopmentCommittee Ilam jointly organized a all level stakeholder consultation meeting cum workshopto discuss various issues regarding the promotion of tourism in Ilam. This meeting wasorganized from 19th to 21st December, 2007 at DDC Ilam. The meeting was ended withcommon consensus for developing 5 year periodic plan for the promotion of tourism in Ilam.The plan will definitely include the agri-tourism as one of the promising tourism sectors inIlam and explore the appropriate way to promote the same.ConclusionAgri-tourism is a hybrid concept that merges elements of two complex industries i.e.agriculture and tourism. It has been flourishing rapidly globally. Nepal, because of largeagricultural bases, is one of the best destinations for agri-tourism. The districts where thereexist appropriate infrastructures, agricultural bases, and tourism history are feasible for agri-tourism, and Ilam is one of the promising districts for the same.Agri-tourism, though the term is new, has been in existence in Ilam since long. The existinginfrastructures, the geographical diversity, wide varieties of crops, traditional agricultureknowledge and technology, and other several features have enabled the district suitable foragri-ecotourism. These features have also opened unlimited opportunity for the promotion ofagri-tourism in the district. The recent initiative from NGOs and different level line agenciesare also contributing for the promotion of agri-tourism in Ilam. Despite of large ground forthe development of agri-tourism Ilam has been still experiencing various challenges whichare responsible for slow rate of development of agri-tourism.To develop agri-tourism, Ilam needs a collaborative, and coordinated efforts from all levelstakeholders. Besides, a visionary plan is also essential to go effectively. These seem possiblein the changed political scenario and the restoration of peace in the country. Recentdeclaration of stakeholders to develop periodic plan for 5 year period is really a positiveinitiative for the promotion of agri-tourism in the district. 24
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