Maha Govt clears agro-tourism policy to invigorate rural sector

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Cabinet on Sunday gave approval to the Agro-Tourism Policy for the state. This aims to invigorate the rural sector and agro practitioners with a steady source of alternate income and alternate employment through tourism like farm stays. This apart, the tourists can also enjoy the local cuisine and cultural aspects. This was disclosed by the Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray after the cabinet meeting which took place on the eve of two-day monsoon session of state legislature beginning September 7.

Aaditya in a tweet said, ‘’Although many countries around the world have such enabling policies to assist tourists with homestays in the farms and orchards, Maharashtra has taken the lead today to establish it in India. Our department is thankful to the Cabinet to have approved this formally.’’

Aaditya further said that the Agro Tourism Policy will be an enabler for those looking out to travel, enjoy the rustic outdoors, spend time on farms, indulge in eco-friendly tourism, organic local flavours and seasonal fruit picking. Further, the statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office said the objective of the policy is to promote rural development through agri-tourism, opening up market for agricultural products, promotion of agro-based businesses, provide employment opportunities to rural women and youth, promotion of folk art and traditions. This apart, the agro-tourism will provide tourists with actual farming experience and exposure to pollution-free and proximity to nature.

The government expects individual farmers, farmers' agricultural cooperatives, agricultural science centres, agricultural colleges, agricultural universities, farmers' partnership organizations or companies to set up agri-tourism centres. These tourist centres will get a certificate of registration from the tourism department and they will be entitled for a bank loan.

Besides, such centres can avail benefits under the Goods and Services Tax and electricity charges. Living rooms with a farm area of two to five acres are required and should have a dining room and kitchen. The aspirants can register for agri tourism centre at Rs 2,500 while the renewal at Rs 1,000 every after five years with the tourism department and tourism directorate.

The state government will set up the Agro-Tourism and Rural Tourism Development Committee to promote agri-tourism in the state.

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