The Hare vs the Tortoise: Agritourism

Blog By Dermot Moore

Agritourism offers;

  • Additional income to farms 
  • Entertainment 
  • Education for visitors
  • Accommodation 
  • Increased job opportunities for local rural communities
  • Strengthen rural-urban networks 

As global concerns shift towards environmental protection and recovery, the educational value of agritourism increases. In addition, agritourism offers non-farmers an insight into the energy required to bring food and materials to us. 

Agriturismo

Farms, where agritourism is in place, appear to reap the rewards. Italy is a prime example. Comparisons between farms focused on traditional agriculture and those who partake in agritourism reveal stark differences. The sustainability of farms that offer tourist activities was much higher than traditional counterparts, including:

  • Soil quality
  • Water management
  • Biodiversity
  • Fertiliser/pesticide reduction
  • Animal/plant diversity
Why does this occur?
A Faulty Approach

As sustainable scrutiny grows, agriculturalists are increasingly experiencing demands to increase conservation activities to protect the environment. But, placing additional demand on a sector that is the primary source of food and raw materials can have a backlash.

The Dutch Dichotomy 

Events in the Netherlands this summer highlight opposition. When the Dutch Government attempted to impose targets to reduce emissions by 2030, farmers took to the streets in their thousands. The Netherlands’ agricultural system is highly polluting. The combination of nitrogen fertilisers and livestock waste has caused particularly severe pollution to local soils. This pollution needs addressing. But emission initiatives such as this alienate rural groups and fracture rural-urban ties.

Slow and Steady

The Netherlands’ situation is prevalent across the Globalised World. Farmers and rural communities are on the frontline. Yet, economically they are often isolated. Agritourism encourages more thoughtful approaches towards agricultural policy while motivating farmers to increase sustainable development. Including agritourism in a network of actions to improve rural-urban linkages is vital. Emission targets, though more immediate, seem likely to pose more issues and risk slowing down or obstructing sustainability goals. 

Further Sources

Qualitative Assessment of Agritourism Development Support Schemes in Italy, the USA and South Africa

Agritourism – a definition

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