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Agritourism as a Sustainable Development Alternative in Kenya

by Noel Mutugi

Kenya Tea Farms, image;

Agriculture has been one of Kenya’s major activities and at times has been referred to as the back bone of Kenya’s economy. Different forms of agriculture ranging from cash crop, horticulture and livestock farming are practiced in different regions. Therefore agriculture is embedded in local people’s lifestyle.

Attempts to fully exploit agriculture’s potential in the country have proved futile over the time. Traditionally known agricultural practices have continued being practiced and little efforts have been put in exploring new ideas in the agricultural sector. Therefore, this has led to constant arising problems that deny farmers potential maximum benefits from their produce in order to better their living standards.

Estimates reveal that a quarter of world’s poor are rural farmers (World Bank, 2001). This is evident from Kenya’s situation whereby most poor people live in rural areas and many mainly depend on agriculture. Kenya has a high potential for agri-tourism given that agriculture is a major activity that cuts across counties. Introduction of agri-tourism can be a catalyst for both income and non-income benefits to farmers. Therefore, in a larger scale, these benefits would work to meet Kenya’s financial and infrastructural needs.

Income benefits in form of cash acquired from agricultural tours, farm/home stays and sale of farm products can improve farmers’ livelihoods whereby they are able to secure educational opportunities, access medical needs, food as well as get decent housing.

Non-income benefits would come in handy to better their lives, as tourism activities pick up attracting other investors such those offering auxiliary services such as banks, hospitals as well as recreational facilities.

Again, this would lead to establishment of new infrastructure such as, transportation and communication channels and in turn open up these areas. On environment, it would help in retention of agricultural land for future food production thus reducing environmental destruction.”

Agri-tourism and Poverty reduction

File image: Kilimo Talii, Chogoria, Meru.

While relating poverty to small enterprises such as agri-tourism outlets, in which farmers have potential to invest in, the International Labor Organization defines poverty as a condition in which people lack satisfactory material resources of food, shelter, clothing and housing, also are unable to access basic services such as health, education, water, sanitation and are constrained in their ability to exercise rights, share power and land, their voices to the instructions and processes which affect the social, economic and political environments in which they live and work.

If fully embraced in Kenya, agri-tourism projects would therefore provide platforms for local farmers-cum-communities to acquire alternative tangible and intangible income benefits. Rural landscapes and agricultural lands would be protected. At the same time, the population would derive valuable knowledge and expertise in regards to food production and environmental protection. This would work to foster and strengthen local economies that promote the well-being of the people as well as improving their living standards.

About Mwaniki Mutugi (372 Articles)
<p>Noel Mutugi is a graduate of tourism management from Moi University, a tourism, travel & conservation enthusiast and a tour consultant at the Nairobi-based Kiboko Kenya Safaris.</p>