First State-run venture to take up farm tourism

The Government Jersey Farm at Vithura on the outskirts of the city will soon become the first such State-run farm to introduce farm tourism. The project is a joint initiative of the district panchayat, Animal Husbandry Department and Tourism Department.

Tourism Department officials and tour operators visited the Jersey Farm recently to evaluate the tourism potential of the farm on a proposal submitted by the district panchayat and farm authorities. The proposal envisaged measures to develop basic facilities for visitors to tour the farm and tap the tourism potential of places nearby.

“Though a number of private farms offer farm tourism packages in Kerala, this will be the first such initiative in a government-run farm. The Vithura Jersey farm was selected in view of its proximity to the forests and other untapped places nearby with tourism potential. The project will also generate income for the farm and provide livelihood to the local people,'' said district panchayat president Anavoor Nagappan.

The 200-acre farm houses around 158 heads of cattle, 62 buffaloes and 188 goats and includes cattle and goat breeding units apart from a dairy farm. The Rs.2-crore farm tourism proposes to develop 80 acres out of 200-acre farm area for tourism facilities. However, in view of the risks involved in allowing visitors in a functional animal farm, the main farm area will not be accessible to tourists. “Since the farm is a bio-security area, we have to construct separate enclosures, meadows or paddocks where tourists can view low-risk animals like kids and calves,” said S. Giridhar, deputy director in-charge of the Jersey Farm.

The proposal also envisaged improving farm roads, constructing a cafeteria, guesthouse and five cottages for tourists and trekkers to Agasthyarkudam, Bonacaud and Kallar. There is also a proposal to create a medicinal garden, where the farm staff, many of whom belong to tribal communities, can grow and sell medicinal plants.

A Rs.2-crore project to upgrade the farm is already under way. The project is aimed at constructing hi-tech sheds and improving the facilities in the farm,” Dr. Giridhar added.

Tourism director M. Sivasankar said the Tourism Department would market the tourism potential of the farm by linking it with tourists and tour operators. “From the feedback received from the team that visited the farm, it has huge tourism potential. Turning the farm into a big tourist spot with major tourism infrastructure is not a priority at the moment. The basic idea is to give tourists a chance to tour the farm and discover its facilities and functions,'' he said.