United Nations declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming. The declaration is in line with Agritourism – the farming tourism program which COBATI is piloting among small family farms in South Western Uganda.
Agritourism can be defined as any business conducted by a farmer for the enjoyment or education of the public to promote the products of the farm and to generate additional farm income through practicing agritourism as a farming enterprise. Tourism is becoming less of seeing and more about living an experience. Agritourism, if well developed, can have substantial economic impact on local economies. Appeal for agricultural and farm-based tourism attractions is growing worldwide, becoming an important sector of the tourism product mix.
Increasingly, people are getting further and further away from the land. COBATI partner family farms offer opportunities to urban families, especially school children and youth, to experience what it is like to be on the farm in an environment they would not be able to replicate. Linking tourism to agriculture at the homestead level has the potential to showcases Uganda’s beautiful landscape and scenic rural environment. Tourists would love to enjoy fresh, clean unpolluted air and eat “live food” harvested straight from gardens to kitchen to dining tables within a short time. This is process people living in developed countries yearn for, as the mainstream food they eat usually travels thousands of miles from where it is grown to where it is eaten.
Through practicing agritourism and farmstays, farmers will promote healthy eating and showcase nutrient rich farming to visitors, generating demand for locally-grown food. This creates opportunities for small family farmers in Uganda to venture into value addition to process their farm products into marketable items such as as honey, yogurt, cheese, milk, ghee, vegetable oils, wine, jam, soups, healthy snacks, and juices.
Since 2010, COBATI has mentored small family farmers in South Western Uganda to integrate tourism into their farming activities. We are spearheading the development of a network of profitable environmentally-friendly family farms across Uganda which promotes local farming that produces nutrient rich foods, works in harmony with nature, and practices agritourism as a viable tourist attraction. Through the COBATI “Farm-stay” program, we are piloting Agritourism in partnership with 10 family farms in Mbarara Sheema and Igara districts.
Through agritourism, COBATI seeks to highlight the work of rural small family farmers, empower farmers to get access to tourism markets, form collaborations between farmers and tourism, and encourage farmers to produce horticultural products for the tourism industry!
COBATI farmstays offer visitors opportunity for experiential learning such as farm tours where urban families/children will learn about farming, eat nutritious foods, and exercise. Urban children are ever sitted watching television, playing computer games, and eating processed sugary foods. A visit to a working farm is good for them to become active.
Our vision is to make family farming interesting and profitable and create a generation of young entrepreneurs who generate jobs for themselves instead of endlessly searching for employment in cities and migrating from rural areas.
Thank you to New Vision for profiling successful farmers through Harvest Money. You are inspiring youth to become interested in farming and changing the negative image people associate with rural areas and farming as an occupation for the poor, elderly, uneducated, and failures.
COBATI mentors and provides training to farming families and individuals interested in adapting our model and methodology for their farms and communities.