The social functions of agrotourism incorporate concerns important for all nations. Rural areas are associated with notions of "culture," "tradition," and "identity." These notions are perceived as a positive, indeed an essential, good. However, agrarian communities have undergone dramatic transformations. For example, labour migration to cities and linkages to these centres have major impacts on rural incomes and resources. In the most Marginal agricultural zones, the resident populations have become dependent on a permanent exchange with and remittances from the exterior. Ties to urban and often international markets are consistent features of rural economies. The enduring and emerging dynamics between rural and urban areas can be taken into account in analyses based on the Multifunctional Agriculture concept.
The Multifunctional Agriculture concept has the advantage of not focusing strictly on production as the single, or even necessarily the most important, agricultural function for contemporary rural societies. The approach extends to a range of activities in relation to the land and the resource base, including caretaking of vital natural features, sustaining secondary and tertiary activities related to agriculture and land, maintenance of the historical and cultural heritage, recreation and returning retirement migration. The integrity of local and national cultures is often rooted in systems of belief and understanding that have gradually emerged in rural areas. Social viability thus does not depend on the "food function" alone.
The importance of the social function becomes evident when considering rural areas in the most industrial nations, which have only modest direct importance for employment and national revenues. However, the socio-cultural functions of agriculture and land apply equally to many mid-level income countries, as well as to other rural societies tied to urban areas or to other forms of activity for revenues. The social aspects of urbanisation and out-migration must also be considered, without a preconceived view of the relative merits or disadvantages of these processes.
Another entire range of issues is associated with questions regarding the general well-being of rural populations. Descriptions at multiple scales and levels can capture the considerable local variations in social conditions, as well as specifying vital linkages to sub-regional and other levels. In documenting experience, assessment can extend to the importance of questions related to gender, age, stratification, social categories, equity, differential access to resources and relative opportunity. The results of the analysis can be used to evaluate and influence the direction of future interventions regarding agriculture, taking into account the need to maintain the basic services and economic opportunities needed to keep rural areas attractive to community members
The availability of information can also fall into the social function, though these issues cut across the spectrum of functions. Of particular importance is the valuation of local knowledge and the forging of relationships between local communities and external sources of expertise, information and advice. The effectiveness of policies on public information depends on the existence of an expression of the collective will of local people to ensure that their society can continue living in a sustainable manner. This will may be explicit if articulated by the local leadership or implicit when the growth and development of local activities create a favourable state of mind in the community.
Where agriculture has become highly specialised and makes highly intensive use of inputs produced by the chemical industry, landscapes have changed considerably and in some cases pollution has become widespread. People in certain societies, particularly when these are industrialised and with high incomes, have gradually developed a preference for forms of agriculture which at least partly preserve historic landscapes and reduce pollution. Demand is expressed in different ways: in political terms, by the emergence of "green" parties and platforms, nature conservation groups or associations, and in market terms by the emergence of a demand for agro-related tourism and high quality products.
Karel Charvat 2010-08-05
Rural tourism starts to play important role in the whole agribusiness and rural development. In many remote areas, it starts to be main economic activity. The development of such kind of activities is now supported as a possibility for sustainable development of rural areas. Rural tourism is a chance, how to give to farmer’s new opportunity for profit from the tourism itself as well as a new market of the agrarian-products in the same region. Rural tourism can help with changes of the agribusiness to ecological farming.continue