Georgian farmers milking money from tourism

Dairy farmers in Georgia are turning out as tourism providers to enhance profits after their original business has seen a fall in viability over the years.

Georgia has more than 250 dairy farms, with dairy farming supporting the economy with inputs of about $250m. However, as operating costs have increased because of rising gas prices and higher feed costs for animals, farmers are exploring methods to convert their strengths into more money, through alternate means.

Stiff competition in the market is also forcing farmers to seek better methods to generate increased profits. High costs of milking and maintenance and low productivity are also forcing farmers to look at alternate means to raise capital. Once agri-farming was adopted as a viable economic activity, farmers also started seeing it as a viable method to educate the local population about the benefits of going local with regard to farm produces and products. It has also served to enhance the dairy farmers’ original business with tourism serving to popularise the dairy business.

In an interview published by WBJF’s News Channel 6, a farmer who has tasted success with agri-tourism, said, ‘More and more farmers are turning to agri-tourism to get in money. It’s a way to help educate the public. Here at Steed’s Dairy Farm, that’s exactly what they’ve set up. They have a corn maze, you can go hay rides, visit a petting zoo. It’s a way to help farmers in a tough economy. This is our third year with agri tourism. I wasn’t used to people but now I enjoy it.’