"Farming in itself may not be viable for most people. It is always better to set up an alternative source of income from the existing resources that farmers have. With their fast-paced and stressful lives in cities, people want to de-stress themselves in such rural and raw settings," said Harkirat, who has been an agriculturist since his teenager days and lives at his farm in Chhauni village near Hoshiarpur.
Harkirat, whose family has been involved in growing kinnows (a citrus fruit like the orange) and forestry for a number of decades, has been a trendsetter among agriculturists in "Green Revolution" state Punjab by tapping into the entrepreneurial side. The Punjab Tourism Department has been highlighting his farm-stay project while marketing tourism in the state.
"I advise other entrepreneurs about every aspect of the business: Staffing, accommodation, furniture, construction, marketing, activities, dealing with all types of guests and the basic training of the staff. My years in this line have taught me to deal with almost every eventuality -- be it on the business side or a crisis with a guest," Harkirat pointed out, while detailing his consultancy and franchise model.
Harkirat, who holds a master's degree in mass communication from Panjab University, Chandigarh, and is popularly known as the "Farm-stay Man" among friends and guests, runs "Citrus County" along with his wife Jasveen and is now setting up a nature wellness centre in the foothills of the Shivalik range, along the Punjab-Himachal border.
"It was a vision, a dream -- and the gumption to make it all come true" that drove Harkirat to venture into the untapped field of agri-tourism in a small village. "The project that began 10 years back has now grown by leaps and bounds and caters to visitors from all over India and abroad," Jasveen, who trained to be a dental surgeon but is now fully involved with the farm-stay project, told IANS.
At their farm-stay, guests get to try their hand at how farming is actually done in the agrarian state. They can sow, pluck fruits, plough the fields, milk cows, drive a tractor and take a ride to a nearby forest and rivulet in a tractor-trolley.
"Guests and their children are given the experience of being a farmer over the weekend or during holidays. Fresh, home-cooked food, which is prepared on earthen stoves, home-grown organic vegetables and warm hospitality add up in equal measure to make the experience a refreshing one," Harkirat said.
"Glamping", or luxury tenting, as Harkirat puts it, is also part of the farm experience in their nine air-conditioned tents.
Punjab is known as India's breadbasket where the "Green Revolution" in agriculture began in the 1960s. Harkirat is adding a new facet to farming in the state.(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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