KATHMANDU, Sept 17: Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN) organized an interaction on 'Organic Agro Tourism' in Kathmandu on Friday.
Inaugurating the program, Minister for Agricultural Development Gauri Shankar Chaudhary appreciated TAAN's efforts to promote organic farming and establish linkage between organic farming and tourism. "If promoted well, it can benefit both tourism and agricultural sector," he said, adding: "While farmers can get more benefits from tourism, the tourism industry will get high-end tourists as organic agro tourism is a niche tourism product worldwide.” He also promised all possible support to TAAN to promote organic agro tourism.
At the program, TAAN also declared that it would take needful initiative to promote organic tourism along popular trekking trails like Kanchanjunga, Jaljala-Makalu, Jiri-Everest, Langtang-Helambu, Upper Mustang and Upper Dolpa, among others.
Similarly, TAAN President Chandra Prasad Rijal said the workshop was a part of TAAN's efforts to share information among major stakeholders like the tourism ministry, agriculture ministry, ICIMOD, WWF Nepal and NTNC, among others, who have been working to promote sustainable tourism in the country. "Organic agro tourism is the next big thing in global tourism market. By certifying our tourism areas organic, we can bring high-end tourists from all over the world here," he said. "It not only makes farmers richer, but also boosts our economy by discouraging import of farm products." Stating that our farming technique is already organic, Rijal said: "We only need to brand it and promote it effectively in the international market."
Similarly, TAAN Treasurer Lila Baldab Dahal said the workshop was a part of TAAN's efforts to establish linkage between agriculture and tourism. "Only some lodge owners are getting benefits from tourism in major trekking areas of the country. By promoting organic tourism, we want more local people to get benefits from tourism," he said, adding: "The government should help farmers for organic certification and find market for their products."
In his presentation, TAAN Executive Member Pemba Sherpa 'Sherpa' talked about the benefits of organic tourism not only to human health but also to national economy. "By promoting organic farming, we can earn precious foreign currency as the world market is looking for organic tourism products," he added. He also said promotion of organic agro tourism will help promote Nepali farm products in the world market. "Tourists will see Nepali farming technology themselves and promote it throughout the world through word of mouth publicity. It will help both agriculture and tourism sectors," he added.
Organic food stalls were the major attractions of the program. Organic products ranging from walnut and Marsi rice from Jumla, apples from Dolpa, beans from Humla, sea buckthorn juice from Bajura and lentils of Chitwan were the major attractions of the program. Stalls selling organic fresh vegetables, tea and coffee, honey, chestnuts, brown rice, and eggs, among others, went out of stock in no time.
Representatives from tourism, forest and agriculture ministries; Department of Tourism, Department of Agriculture, Nepal Tourism Board, WWF Nepal, ICIMOD, NTNC, different travel trade associations, among others, were present on the occasion.
Firms dealing on organic farm products like Organic Sansar Nepal, Himgiri Eco-Friendly Agricultural Cooperatives, Dolpo Organic Farming Management Committee, Organic World and Fair Trade, Bliss Raw Café, Himalayan Organic Garden, Crystal Earth and Organic Farm House had set up stalls at the program.