Despite not receiving a single cent from government, Agritourism South Africa has received global recognition for creating sustainable entrepreneurship opportunities in Mzansi.
Agritourism South Africa, the only initiative of its kind in Africa, was honoured during a virtual awards ceremony held during the International Conference on Agritourism. During the conference, researchers, farmers and other stakeholders shared examples of successful agricultural and tourism practices from across the globe.
‘Admired as survivors’
Jacqui Taylor, chief executive of Agritourism South Africa, thanked the awards committee for the acknowledgement.
Speaking to Food For Mzansi, Taylor said they were elated by the news.
“The number of requests to speak at international conferences about sustainability and entrepreneurship in agritourism is honestly overwhelming.
“We have no government support, so countries around the world admire us as survivors. We receive no funding whatsoever, but we are passionate about making a difference at ground level.”
Taylor says she has not come across many examples in first-world countries who do similar work in agritourism as Agritourism South Africa.
This, she suspects, might be the reason behind her company’s recent big win. They remain committed to embracing agritourism to boost rural development.
“My team and I are simply working class. No glamour, no wine and canapé parties. Just solid hard work, seven days a week.”
The road ahead
Despite the global recognition, a lack of funding remained a major challenge, confirmed Taylor. There is a huge need for programmes focused on youth and women. On a personal level, it’s been quite taxing too. “Personally, the barriers I have had to overcome have been extremely high.”
Many sponsorship and mentorship promises made over the years have simply not been forth-coming. Also, Taylor is disappointed that their recent award was not acknowledged by tourism associations nor government departments.
“Agritourism should benefit all. Farmers, farmworkers but also women and children.”Jacqui Taylor, CEO for Agritourism South Africa
“The reason is quite simply their egos. I will not let anyone manipulate Agritourism South Africa or Rural Tourism Africa. We do not have egos. We focus on making a difference in the lives of rural communities and there is no glamour in what we do,” said Taylor.
That being said, she believed that partnerships would strengthen agritourism in Africa.
“Agritourism should benefit all, not just the wine and canapé crowd. We are talking about rural development that improves the lives of not just farmers, farm works but also women and children.”