Integrating Buddhist Tour and Agrotourism in India








Secondary agriculture





India is known for its rich cultural diversity. For spiritual reasons, it is also one of the most sought after destinations in the world. The pace of technology and development interventions in recent times has raised a need for sustainability and alarm for mankind. There is constant pressure to improve the social, economic and environmental values ​​of a particular tourist location as these are the fundamental pillars of sustainability. But in today’s chaotic world, spirituality can be seen as an important fourth pillar of sustainability in the tourism industry.












In order to nurture the concept, the identification of such spiritual circuits is crucial. Among the main circuits providing additional spiritual components, the Buddhist circuit has received the most attention from political planners. It is an important pilgrimage destination for around 450 million practicing Buddhists as well as tourists interested in history and culture. The Buddhist circuit has its roots in India and passes through the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Kushinagar, Sharvasti, Sarnath and Kaushambi in Uttar Pradesh and Bodhgaya, Rajgir/Nalanda and Vaishali in Bihar are the districts of two states which are part of the Buddhist circuit. According to the World Bank report 2019-20, Rs. 500 crores was invested in this region for the improvement of this site and related infrastructure during the period 2014-2018. Linking agrotourism sites to the Buddhist circuit can bring greater economic benefit to the region, creating income and employment opportunities in the region and also improving agricultural incomes.

Promote agrotourism as a secondary agricultural activity

The development of agro-tourism in India is at a very naive stage. The importance of agritourism can be realized from the fact that it provides a diversified scope in agricultural activities and is also useful in offsetting price fluctuations encountered in traditional marketing practices. Therefore, agrotourism should be promoted as one of the main secondary agricultural activities. Homestays can be developed in association with FPOs around which will not only connect visitors to village life and economy, but also save considerable infrastructure cost. Moreover, it will create a win-win situation for farmers and visitors. Urban visitors can learn about food growing practices and the challenges farmers face. This may further encourage them to save food and grow their own in urban centers. In addition, the urban consumer can order and buy directly from the farmer’s site.

Why Agrotourism with Buddhist Tours

In Dhammapada there are about 450 verses of which 250 relate to agriculture and the environment. It is also interesting to note that the very first food taken by Buddha after enlightenment was fried ground (saturated) and honey. Like lately, we’re emphasizing connection’krishi with rishi‘, the links between agriculture and Buddhism cannot be ignored. In addition, the development of the current circuit in agriculture lines will enrich the existing Buddhist sites and lead to local prosperity, economic development as well as environmental maintenance.







Figure 1: Conceptualized model for linking the Buddhist circuit with agrotourism in India
Figure 1: Conceptualized model for linking the Buddhist circuit with agrotourism in India





Figure 1 illustrates existing Buddhist circuits in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Existing policy interventions in agriculture can be linked to the development of agricultural circuits to create win-win opportunities for farmers and visitors.

Furthermore, the author attempts to understand the institutional infrastructure available in various locations of the Buddhist circuits and the existing agricultural policy intervention in these areas. It is believed that with the network of existing facilities, the two circuits can be merged and the existing institutional development framework can be further strengthened.

NS

Area

Agricultural business

One district one product

Remarks

1

Kushinagar, UP

Wheat, paddy, maize, sugarcane

Banana fiber products

Availability KVK

2

Shravasti, UP

Rice, sugar cane

Tribal products

Popularity of local product by Tharu tribe

3

Sarnath, UP

Cluster of vegetables and fruits

Banarasi Silk Saree

Availability KVK

4

Kausambi, UP

Crops: wheat, rice, banana

Food processing (banana)

banana belt; Availability KVK

5

Bodh Gaya, Bihar

Rice, sugar cane, potato

Mushroom

Availability KVK, ATMA

6

Nalanda, Rajgir

Rice, potato

Potato

Availability KVK

seven

Vaishali

Rice, wheat, maize, oilseeds

Honey

Availability KVK

Table 1: Brief details of existing locations in Buddhist tours as well as availability of agricultural tours

Source: Author’s own compilation from various sources












Go forward

There is a need for engagement of stakeholders like International Buddhist Confederation, Ministry of Tourism-GoI, Department of Tourism, Government of Uttar Pradesh, Government of Bihar and local agricultural institutions, NGOs, farmers’ organizations, visitors, etc., to develop the circuit under discussion. . This will be useful for the development of agri-tours based on the harvest season, the exchange of local culture, history, etc. services offered in these places. KVKs under agricultural universities can play a greater role in building the capacity of farmers, especially for the development of agricultural components in existing tourist facilities. Moreover, tourists would also visit the KVKs to get a glimpse of the latest technological developments in the field of agriculture. It is also necessary to promote the “social responsibility of the destination” of visitors through capacity building programmes. This will ultimately bring a symbiotic association with the farming community, visitors and further lead to economic development and local prosperity.

Authors

Mohit Sharma* and Ritambhara Singh**

* Assistant Professor, School of Agribusiness and Rural Management, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa, Samastipur, Bihar Email: [email protected]; +919549034035

** Associate Professor, School of Agribusiness and Rural Management, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa, Samastipur, Bihar