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Feeling of lively life at Maval taluka in Pune

The picturesque Maval taluka in Pune district is a popular tourist destination, famous for its dams, caves, forts and its awe inspiring mountainous beauty.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Oct 30, 2008, 12.53 AM IST|Original: Oct 30, 2008, 12.53 AM IST
PUNE: The picturesque Maval taluka in Pune district is a popular tourist destination, famous for its dams, caves, forts and its awe inspiring mountainous beauty. A group of 25 farmers from the taluka, which also houses the Pavana dam, have joined hands to set up weekend getaways for tourists.

The farmers have formed the Maval Agri-Tourism Development Co-operative Society Limited pooling around 100 acres of their land, with the intention of promoting agritourism. The Pune District Cooperative Bank will provide loans to these farmers to help them upgrade facilities at their farms.

Agritourism involves visiting a working farm or any agriculture, horticulture or agribusiness operation, for the purpose of enjoyment, education or involvement in the activities of the farm. The farmers are the hosts and also double up as guides.

Maval taluka has been the attraction in recent times with many actors and industrialists making a beeline to buy land there. Superstar Amitabh Bachchan���s controversial, nearly 22 acre plot is located here while yesteryear���s hero, Dharmendra, owns a farmhouse here.

Vijay Kalekar, sarpanch of Kale Colony village, the headquarters of the farmer���s society, said, ���Lots of tourists visit the dams, caves and forts in the Maval taluka. Lonavala and Khandala are also a major attraction. Most tourists are unaware about the specialties of our area and keep roaming without any direction.

We want to attract them to our farms, which will also help us to generate additional income. One of our members also operates a boating club in the backwaters of the Pavana dam. We want to introduce tourists to activities like floriculture, harvesting, bee-keeping, sericulture and dairy,��� Mr Kalekar said.

The Kale Colony gram panchayat would be the entry point, from where tourists would be received by farmers and taken to their farms. ���Some farmers have residential arrangements on their farms, while the others are in the process of upgradation,��� Mr Kalekar said.

Farmers��� activities are based on the model devised by the Pune-based Agri Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC), a private body set up by entrepreneur Pandurang Taware in 2005. ATDC is pomoted by the Baramati based Rajendra Pawar, nephew of union agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, whose Agriculture Development Trust is targeted at improvement of agricultural practices.

Mr Taware, who operates agritourism projects in 52 locations, providing expertise, said, ���Many unemployed farmers in Maval taluka were cheated of their lands, selling them at throwaway rates. Later, they worked as watchmen and domestic help on the same land. Agri-tourism will help them generate jobs.

We are aware of parties happening in places like Lonavala, Khandala, Pavananagar, etc in Maval taluka. We are targeting the class of tourists who want to spend a weekend on the farms here.���

Mr Taware said that agritourism is a growing activity as people are increasingly choosing rural areas for leisure trips. ���ATDC started with a pilot project in Baramati in 2005 where we received 6,000 tourists during the first year of our operations.

Our turnover was then Rs 2 lakh. We now operate in 52 locations in the state and look to close this financial year at Rs 50 lakh,��� Mr Taware said.
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