The Sunday Mail
Zimbabwe’s tourism brand could be enhanced through the expanded version of the agritourism concept.
Branding through agritourism creates additional revenue to the farmer. It also creates additional employment opportunities through value-added production and recreation programming.
Zimbabwe is renowned globally for delivering land to the people in line with the aspirations of the liberation struggle, and, therefore, new farmers are encouraged to grab opportunities in agritourism to brand the country’s tourism industry.
Adoption of agritourism by new farmers should be done in appreciation of the historical effort by liberation forces to fight for land redistribution.
New farmers are better-placed to brand the country’s tourism industry through the adoption of the agritourism concept.
The concept entails farm visits that bring memorable and distinctive experiences for visitors.
Zimbabwe’s economy is agro-based.
Farmers, therefore, will not struggle to brand the country’s farms through innovative means that attract visitors.
To establish effective branding through agritourism, farmers should be flexible enough to capture the breadth and depth of different farm practices that are offered in agricultural settings, as well as introduce a mixture of recreational activities linked to agriculture.
The major tenets of branding through agritourism should be based on hands-on agricultural activities that are aligned with the farmer’s vision.
Recreational facilities on farms could be either for a fee or help unlock indirect economic benefits such as farm visits that can result in potential customers for farm produce.
Farm visitors should be exposed to diverse activities such as hayrides, farmscape observation, orchard tours, lodging and food services.
Learners should also be exposed to educational opportunities such as culinary classes, hunting or hospitality services.
The major benefit of agritourism includes an increase in the farm’s revenue streams and profit, creation of employment opportunities, an increase in the promotion of consumption of local products and, ultimately, increased bonding involving farmers and key stakeholders in both agriculture and tourism.
Recreation on farms by new farmers is a display of the country’s brand that fosters the spirit of togetherness and friendliness of stakeholders in agriculture.
The major driving force of the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe was to deliver land to the people, and, therefore, the introduction of agritourism on farms is an appreciation of the country’s land heritage, which is worth commercialising.
New farmers carry the legacy of the liberation struggle, including the spirituality associated with the ethical and moral dimensions of society in terms of credence to justice, equity and sustainability — tenets that defined the liberation struggle.
Adoption of agritainment by new farmers is also a branding approach to preserve the country’s heritage in terms of local customs and ancestral practices that were once lost and got distorted by colonial systems.
New farmers should identify and define unique ways of farming to attract visitors.
This is made possible through rummaging deeper into cultural narratives that were destroyed by colonialism in the past 100 years.
White settler farmers in Zimbabwe were privileged to be allocated fertile land in the watershed region by the colonial system, while African peasants were allocated land in uninhabitable areas.
Most of the areas are semi-arid, have sandy soils and are disease-infested.
The colonial system deliberately reduced Africans to abject poverty and limited their innovativeness.
However, the liberation struggle, which culminated in independence in 1980, ultimately led to land reform in 2000.
New farmers were created and are now free to restore the country’s brand through agritourism.
This historical context can help farmers pitch the tourism brand to agritourism standards through the introduction of farming methods that are unique and innovative.
Zimbabwe is the only African country that managed to deliver its liberation mandate of land reform.
Most countries that were once colonised are still on the drawing table, debating the issue of land reform.
Delivery of land to the people is an attractive tourism brand for the country.
New farmers can ably attract visitors to assess the obtaining status after colonisation.
It is interesting to note that the country’s former colonisers introduced sanctions to prevent the success of the land reform programme.
However, agritourism strategies can also drive success in the sector through generating additional revenues.
Zimbabwe has already reached Canaan after delivering land to the people, but the fruits in Canaan can be realised through hard work.
Charles Mavhunga co-authored textbooks in Business Enterprising Skills and is currently studying for a PhD in Management at Bindura University of Science Education. He can be contacted at [email protected]