Harvest SA – The Overlap Between Agriculture & Tourism
Agritourism can be visualised by the following triangle.
It is broadly regarded as the offering of tourist visitor attractions and tourist activities on a working farm
Location uniqueness, fruiting or harvesting seasons, geographical characteristics and topography (surrounding landscapes) enable recreational entertainment (visitor attractions) such as game viewing, birding, biking, hiking, and fishing in or close to working farms forms the basis of agritourism. Stay-over (accommodation) on the farm or close to the farm serves as supplemental attractions. Huge opportunities also exist to establish camping facilities (and especially glamping – luxurious camping) on or close to a working farm. Tourism activities on a farm can include observing or even participating in animal care, harvesting crops, agricultural technology and processes, and enjoying the tasting of farm produce. Day visits on working farms, such as wine farms and agricultural processing plants (such as cheese making) are also recognised as a form of agritourism.
Any farmer who has an interest in establishing an agritourism enterprise must take note of the agritourism typology (see figure) to determine which type (1. to 5.) is best suited to the farm’s layout, labour skills and financial base. To provide an ”authentic” agritourism setting on a working farm is more labour and cost-intensive (see 4 and 5 in figure 1). Farms in the same area can organise themselves to create an agritourism grouping where different farm experiences are offered. Some farms can specialise in providing accommodation while others can focus on on-farm, direct contact authentic agritourism without offering accommodation.
AgritourismAfrica is currently running an agritourism project that aims to provide agritourism mapping for every province. Mapping will be beneficial in identifying the particular products/activities that can be showcased by all South African working farms and the possibility of developing agritourism routes. Mapping will also increase our insight into and knowledge of tourist supply for agritourism. This will assist non-governmental agricultural bodies to take hands with regional and provincial governments to promote and grow nation-wide agritourism enterprise development.
The wine route in the Western Cape is well-established and well-known in global tourism circles. We should build on current successes in agritourism initiatives in wine tourism and apply benchmarks in other geographical areas and to other agricultural products.
Another suggestion is to establish agritourism initiatives related to those agricultural products (i.e. cut flowers (proteas) and macadamia nuts that South Africa is a leading exporter in. Develop agritourism opportunities for local tourists first and then expand these opportunities into businesses that attract international tourists (Covid-permitting).
Another untapped opportunity is that of indigenous crops. Of the close to 120 commercialised plants that are indigenous to Africa, 16 are only found in southern Africa. A large number of grain, vegetable and fruit crops are indigenous and many of them are consumed unprocessed; have not entered the retail market; are wild-harvested, and may face extinction due to little effort to protect and conserve them. An agritourism map that pinpoints the location of these plants will raise awareness and increase rural income. Urban dwellers can visit farms to sample new foods and learn how to prepare nutritional meals. A number of existing agritourism enterprises should be identified and relationships were established with local community leaders who are willing to allow tourists to view, harvest and consume meals prepared by local chefs. Small-scale farming enterprises should be identified that could be added as visitor attractions close to existing agritourism routes. Enterprises must be supported to assist in the development of community camping sites and outdoor cooking area where meals can be prepared. Tourists could also under the guidance of a local chef prepare meals for self-consumption. Awareness must be created that these plants are highly nutritious as they can add more vitamins and minerals to any diet, and they can be added to soups, broths and stews. These plants are resistant to drought, pests and diseases. Cultural heritage and practices will be promoted and additional income opportunities for rural communities were established.
Provincial governments currently combine agriculture and rural development into one, and economic development, environment and tourism into another department. These two departments should work together to implement agritourism projects that will support rural and economic development. There is a growing concern that small towns are inadvertently downgraded on the urban and rural policy agenda, particularly as places of economic development. This raises the need to establish the benefits of agritourism, its current size and scope and its unending potential in creating economic benefits to farms, farmworkers, small towns and rural communities. Regional and local authorities must therefore grasp the notion that the agritourism income will assist in balancing their budgets. Derelict town infrastructure and poor maintenance of roads are unfortunately negating the enormous potential that agritourism has to contribute to the sustainability of emerging and existing commercial farms and uplifting rural decays. Organised agriculture and non-profit rural tourism stakeholders will have to draw all forms of government into agritourism.
Professor Neels van Heerden
Research Professor in Sport, Leisure and Tourism Marketing at Tshwane University of Technology
My role as a research associate at Rural Tourism Africa is to conduct ad hoc research in agritourism, supervise masters and doctoral students in agritourism, to be instrumental in the innovation of agritourism products and services, and to engage with all stakeholders and communities that have an interest (or should have an interest) in agritourism.