Tribune News Service
Amritsar, February 19
While the state government has been encouraging the shift towards organic farming and research in agronomical sciences, city institutes of higher learning too are doing their bit to encourage agri-entreprenuers, introducing science-backed techniques of natural farming as part of the curriculum. Bringing in concepts of vertical farming, hydroponics/aquaponic farming and shifting to lesser water consuming crops, the focus seems to be on growing yield in a sustainable manner.
Sharing more such concepts of natural farming at the Friday Organic Market, a team of agricultural experts and students interacted with the consumers to promote the practice of growing your own food. “Keeping an eye on the future of farming in India and at global scale, it becomes important to move beyond the gardening and understand the process behind growing food. We have been introducing weekly courses in creating kitchen gardens, rooftop gardens, hydroponics for general public apart from running specific workshops to encourage a community movement towards natural farming,” said Ragini Sharma, director (finance), Amritsar College of Engineering and Technology. Running multiple natural farming learning programme at its agro farms, the college has recently created a mini forest, with an aim to promote garden learning programme for school students.
The recent additions to the organic farm is a hydroponic vertical and ayurvedic medicinal farm. “Hydroponics is a technique now used across the world to create compact, temperature controlled, terrace farms, that does not require soil to grow leafy crops. It includes growing potted plants arranged in stacks vertically, using drip irrigation system. One can grow leafy vegetables, cherry tomatoes, strawberries etc using this technique at home. Also, the concept of liquid manure is being promoted by us, where we use water from fish pond for irrigation. The water has high nitrogen content and other nutrients required for boosting soil fertility,” said SM Bhatt, Associate Professor, Department of Agriculture, ACET. The college has been getting a lot of foreign students for its organic farming course, especially from Nepal. “There is a great potential for employment in the field of natural and organic farming and this field also offers opportunity for self-employment. A lot of organisations worldwide have been promoting the shift toward sustainable food habits, including growing and consuming crops that do not exploit natural resources. We are promoting millets, and variety of black rice and wheat,” he informed.
The team has already conducted workshops for local farmers, especially the ones with small land holding to encourage them to grow millets and reduce the paddy /wheat crop cycle.
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