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 years. Traditionally known agricultural practices have continued being practiced and little effort has been put on exploring new ideas in the agricultural sector. Therefore, this has led to constant arising problems that deny farmers potential benefits from their produce in order to enhance maximum revenue generation.
Estimates reveal that a quarter of world’s poor are rural farmers (World Bank, 2001). This is evident from Kenya’s situation where poverty is deeply rooted in most rural areas that depend mainly on agriculture as an income source. Kenya has a high potential for agri-tourism activities given that agriculture is a common practice across major counties. Introduction of agri-tourism can be a catalyst for both non-income and income benefits to farmers. In a larger scale, these benefits would work towards meeting rural 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 decent housing.
Non-income benefits would come in handy to better their lives, as tourism activities pick up attracting investors such as those offering auxiliary services like 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
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.