Exploring the Option of Agro tourism


Agriculture has been a source of tremendous blessing to mankind and indeed Ghana. Since time immemorial, agriculture has proven to be the lifeblood of the world as it has not only been a source of food but a seedbed for other crucial industries.

Today, advancement in knowledge means that agriculture could and should be used for more than crop cultivation and livestock farming. Indeed the agriculture industry has proven to be a dynamic industry that presents a myriad of options that may not be evident from a casual glimpse of the industry.

Once upon a time, when the word “tourism” was mentioned, the imagery that quickly came to mind was that of travelling, wanderlust and basically –unbridled fun. Agriculture was hardly anywhere in sight when tourism was being considered-not anymore.

Today, agriculture is at the forefront of generating billions of dollars for countries who have made a commitment to maximising the monumental opportunities inherent in the industry through agro-tourism.

Agro-tourism is a niche form of tourism that involves the attraction of people to farms, plantations, ranches and other agricultural enterprises or landmarks. This form of tourism takes tourist or visitors to agriculture facility sites to help them appreciate the full cycle of their operations. It also affords tourists the opportunity to enjoy activities like picking fruits and vegetables  , horse and donkey riding, tasting honey, learning about alcohol distilling and palm oil processing etc.

In African Agro-tourism is fast gaining prominence; with considerable progress already recorded in south and eastern Africa. Outside Africa, agro tourism is contributing significantly to the both the farmer and local industries of Mexico, Philippines, India and the USA.

In Ghana however, the phrase ‘agro tourism’  remains alien to many as the venture is yet to receive any meaningful attention by government and industry players alike; a situation that needs addressing urgently to open alternative doors of opportunities for farmers and other industry practitioners.

While the benefits of agro tourism are too obvious to miss, the main drawback for agro tourism according to industry experts is attributable to lack of knowledge and exposure on the part of a majority of farmers who often show very little interest in shelving old primitive practices for new and advanced ones.


Benefits for Ghana

Although the Ghanaian farmer is undoubtedly a hard worker, not many can boast decent livelihoods. Many a Ghanaian farmer works diligently to churn out plenty only to be recompensed with little or nothing.

This makes the option of agro-tourism even more interesting and worth exploring to create a potentially lucrative income source for the diligent Ghanaian farmer while also contributing significantly to the development of the industry and in extension, the entire country. This could also be a catalyst that will spur our farmers   to adopt modern farming techniques that will make their farms eligible for tourist visits.

Agro tourism is also an effectual tool for wooing youth interest in agriculture. By nature the youth finds fun and adventure alluring .If stakeholders led by the government can initiative deliberate steps aimed at making the Ghanaian youth central to renewed efforts to make agro-tourism an essential part of our agriculture industry, we could well be on our way to experiencing a surge in youth participation in agriculture; a scenario that will have a monumental impact on the country’s development agenda.


Local effect

On the local scene, agro tourism will become a great addition to the Ghanaian agricultural culture. It will no doubt present tourism enthusiasts in the country with an alternative to regular tourism which will surely prove an exciting deviation.

As calls for a mentality change towards agriculture in the country garners steam, agro-tourism presents a beautiful and well–timed opportunity for attracting the cosmopolitan populace especially; to our hinterlands where about 85% of our agricultural endeavours are sited. It will be interesting to afford youngsters and adults alike a chance to experience first-hand the nitty-gritties of the agriculture value chain and how that culminates in the countless agric products that we savour daily.

Agro-tourism is an ideal initiative that if adequately harnessed could also help shred off a substantial chunk of the rural unemployment numbers. Tourism of any kind attracts people-and people, once out of their homes and immediate vicinity are naturally going to have need for basic necessities like food, shelter and clothing etc. This portends an opportunity for rural folks to gain direct and indirect employment and consequently improve their lives.

In fact a well-structured national agro-tourism initiative could be used to engineer an end to the malignant ‘kayayie’ issue that has so far defied every state-proffered solution. If there are agro tourism inspired opportunities in the Upper-East and Upper-West regions, which is home to most of the vulnerable young women involved in the debasing ‘kayayie’ undertakings, we could effectively halt the rural urban migration train that continues to flood our already choked capital city with young people in search of   non-existent jobs.

This could be the much anticipated solution to the ‘kayayie’ menace as no one with a reasonable source of livelihood will explore the option of leaving behind family warmth in favour of migration to the city to endure a life of utter squalor when they can enjoy better conditions in their native homes.


Foreign exchange  

On the global stage, Ghana is definitely a name to be reckoned with. Indeed the world’s second largest producer of an important commodity like cocoa can’t be anonymous among the comity of nations; can she?

Aside her cocoa Ghana is renowned for the export of quality products like coffee, cashew nuts, vegetables, fruits and leather products. This makes the country a potential for foreign visitors who would no doubt want to experience the sights and sounds of the land that has gifted the world so much wholesome nourishment with her quality agricultural products.

If agro tourism is taken seriously by relevant authorities and stakeholders, Ghana could be set to benefit from a windfall of foreign exchange that tourists drawn to the country will afford the country through visits.

The influx of visitors into the country will be a blessing to Ghana in more ways than one. As is the case with regular tourism, every aspect of national life will get a lift if Agro-tourism is taken seriously by all and sundry.


Cultural experience

Agriculture is a practice often sandwiched by other rich cultural indices. For the foreigner and the Ghanaian alike, a chance to experience the exhilarating cultural diversity of the Ghanaian nation is too good to turn down. This incentive will greatly fuel agro tourism participation by the public and reinforce a sense of nationalism among local tourists as it will provide visitors a chance to experience Ghana in such a realistic form they probably have never imagined.

Agro-tourism will present visitors a chance to enjoy native food and purchase fabrics as well as other artefacts. The experience garnered during such expeditions will be a great avenue for encouraging cultural exchange and transmission between visiting local tourists and the indigenes of host communities.


Media herald

The media will have to be at its ‘advocacy best’ if a Ghana will come to experience the avalanche of benefits that could accrue from a well-executed national agro tourism initiative.

The government is clearly inundated with a lot and so a key stakeholder like the media must rise and take centre stage in sensitizing the public through a deliberate campaign to get the entire public on the agro tourism bandwagon.

The recent success chalked by the media in applying the brakes on the wanton destruction of the countries lands and water bodies by illegal miners popularly known as ‘galamsayers’ is the best evidence yet of how the media could help efforts to make agro-tourism a household name in Ghana a reality.

Through a coordinated media focus we have a big chance of making the most of agro- tourism as we collectively strive to propel our dear country towards progress.


Catalyst for rural development

The quest to bridge the socio-economic gap between rural Ghana and urban Ghana will receive great impetus if agro-tourism is embraced and given the necessary support to grow. While it is unrealistic to expect a replication of the magnitude of infrastructural development obtainable in the cities in our rural settlements, we can at least work to improve the lot of the communities that account for the nutritious agro products that we continually enjoy.

A thriving agro-tourism sector will gradually but surely help our hinterlands attract better and adequate infrastructure like roads, water supply, schools etc. as government and investors will be compelled to   invest more in these rural communities that can best be described as deprived.


Need for training

To get agro tourism kicking-on in Ghana, the farmer is undoubtedly the most important stakeholder to target. The reason for this is not far-fetched-many a Ghanaian farmer is bereft of the requisite knowledge to conduct agro tours, marketing skills to better position their enterprises for revenue generation or even how to identify target audience and woo them over to their farms.

Training is therefore crucial to ensure that we don’t start what is clearly a brilliant idea only to slump into an abyss of stagnancy shortly afterwards. Adequate training will embolden farmers with the expertise necessary to fully capitalise on the potential of agro-tourism to transform the livelihood of the Ghanaian farmer, improve the lot of the industry and set Ghana on the path to progress.


Obviously there is more to agriculture than meets the eye. The industry is a source of goodness ordained by the creator for mankind’s benefit. To benefit optimally however, we must think constructively and commit ourselves to adding value to the industry as other countries of the world have managed to do so brilliantly.

The world has come to the knowledge of the huge benefit of agriculture and some countries have taken the lead in exploiting these inherent benefits already. The onus therefore lies on Ghana to identify the vast potential presented by the industry and make concerted effort to   ensure that agriculture emerges as the undisputed bedrock for the socio-economic transformation of our dear country, Ghana.

Netherlands’ Impressive Agric Credentials: Can Ghana Borrow A Leaf?

Netherlands’ Impressive Agric Credentials: Can Ghana Borrow A Leaf?

Ghana and the Netherlands have a long-standing relationship that dates back nearly a century. The relationship with the European country has blossomed and continues to show promises in the areas of sports, business, education and notably, agriculture.

In Europe where the Netherlands is geographically situated, the country is a beacon of excellence in innovative agriculture. Ghana on the other hand, is enormously blessed with an agricultural sector that is not short of eye-catching potential, however, unlike her Dutch counterpart, Ghana has a long way to travel if the country will fulfil the vast potential inherent in her agricultural sector.

While the relationship between the two countries continues to grow, Ghana particularly, could borrow a leaf from the Netherlands who despite being a small country has established itself as a cynosure of agricultural brilliance.

The Netherlands is a small yet densely populated country with a population of about 1,300 inhabitants per square mile. According to a myriad of literature which have documented   the country’s incredible rise to the top of the agricultural enterprise, at the onset of the country’s national drive for agriculture, many cynics were of the opinion that the country was bereft of the resources which were thought to be necessary for success in any full scale agricultural endeavour of national proportion.

The Netherlands brushed aside the wet-blankets; and would you believe it? Today the Dutch have made their country the words second highest exporter of food as measured by value, beaten to top spot of that record by the United States which amazingly has 270 times its landmass!

Viewed from the sky, the Netherlands is said to look like “a disjointed patchwork of intensely cultivated fields most of them, tiny by agribusiness standards, punctuated by bustling cities and suburbs”; a description that lays further claim to the fact that the countries success in agriculture is down to sheer determination of a people bound by the common cause of wanting to provide the world with enough wholesome food with little or no harm to the environment. Despite the countries relatively small arable land space, the country through a resolute approach has turned to greenhouses which have been instrumental to its giant strides in agriculture.

Holland’s greenhouse complexes provide an extraordinary view of the incredible work the country has done in the area of agriculture. With some covering an upwards of 175 acres of earth, the country is now literally strewn with greenhouse edifices; which is a big demonstration yet of the venerable commitment of the Dutch to agriculture.

The greenhouse concept which involves sheltering and tending plant crops in climate controlled enclosures is a wonderful innovation that has made a country not famous for the best soil quality, the world’s leading exporter of a fair weather reliant agricultural produce like tomatoes.

Aside her exploits in the cultivation of tomatoes, Netherlands holds the enviable record of being the world’s top exporter of potatoes and onions and the second largest exporter of vegetables overall in terms of value. In fact, more than a third of all global trade in vegetables seeds originates from the Netherlands.

The journey of the Netherlands towards success in agriculture is not only tied to wonderful innovations. The country also boasts an array of impressive hardware technology that are relied on by farmers countrywide to collectively grow the tons of agricultural produce that the country ships out to feed the rest of the world.

About Twenty years ago the Netherlands made a national commitment akin to the “Planting for Food and Jobs” which Ghana is currently banking the much anticipated revitalization of her agricultural sector on.

Like the planting for food and jobs, the Netherlands rolled out her national agriculture agenda with a goal of “Producing Twice as Much Food Using Half as Many Resources.”

Having laid the marker for a national policy, the Dutch took full advantage without hesitation-the result is the lofty heights the country occupies in the League of Nations who provide the world’s wholesome agricultural produce.

Through its innovative agrifood technology, the Dutch agrifood sector has carved a niche for itself as one that prioritises safe, healthy food that is produced in strict adherence to respect for nature and the environment.

Today, the Dutch agricultural sector is cardinally focused on sustainability rather than mere profit making. The sector through this approach has managed to establish itself as a source of safe food that is produced with outmost respect for the landscape and the environment.

Lessons for Ghana

Ghana has plenty to learn from the Netherlands. If there is any part of the “Netherlands agricultural success story” that catches the eye, it has to be the start point; where the country made a conscious commitment to tow a certain path in its quest to make a mark in agriculture.

Every journey they say begins with a step; but even more crucial is the kind of step and the commitment to making sure that successive steps culminate in a sustained trajectory that guarantees success.

It is heart-warming when in acknowledging the crucial role played by the “Producing Twice as Much Food Using Half as Many Resources “, the Ghanaian version of “Planting for Food and Jobs “comes to mind.

The Dutch story is testament that Ghana may just be on the right path with a flagship policy that aims to guarantee food security and address mass unemployment.

To succeed however, it is important that stakeholders in the industry come on board to own the policy. Like the Dutch example, we must have a national commitment to make the policy work; especially since it proposes a clear-cut direction that aims to tackle the huge challenge of food security and mass unemployment.

Ghana has massive potential waiting to be tapped, and the example of the Netherlands is a fine demonstration of how we can transform our agriculture sector to make it a pride not only for the country but for the African continent.

While we consider the exploits of the Dutch fixatedly, the refreshing reality is that the Netherlands have not hidden its desire to help Ghana succeed in agriculture. The annals hold records of backing received from the Netherlands since independence. This support has not dried up by any means as the Netherlands continues to contribute significantly to efforts aimed at propelling the local agricultural sector.

Support for agric in Ghana

Though Ghana’s relationship with the Netherlands is on many fronts, the European nation’s contributions to Ghana are too big to ignore. Annually the Netherlands commits millions of dollars to the Ghanaian agricultural sector through projects and other support mechanisms. Consequently, the efforts of the Netherlands have been lauded serially by politicians as well as industry players.

The Ghanaveg project which is one such effort of the Netherlands seeks to increase productivity ,facilitate efficient markets, link farmers and other value chain operators to the Dutch private sector with the aim of improving the fortunes of the local Ghanaian agricultural   sector.


A good example is worth emulating any day, and the Netherlands provides just that. From humble beginnings the country has managed success that is befitting of the adjective ‘incredible’

The onus therefore lies on Ghana to take full advantage of the healthy relationship that exists between herself and the Netherlands to emulate the impressive achievement of the European country in agriculture.

While Ghana may find the technological sophistication of the Netherlands an uphill task to climb in the present, the national commitment exhibited by the Dutch is one that we cannot afford to ignore.

The much publicised “Planting for Food and Jobs “gives us a fantastic avenue to shine; and what we must do is embrace the policy regardless of political sentiments to ensure that Ghana emerges the winner by the time the policy is exhaustively implemented by government.