With organic Sundays, city gets taste of fresh farm produce : The Tribune India

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With organic Sundays, city gets taste of fresh farm produce

AMRITSAR: The message is loud and clear, zero budget farming and no chemicals in our food.



Neha Saini

Tribune News service

Amritsar, October 24

The message is loud and clear, zero budget farming and no chemicals in our food. In its efforts to encourage people to take a step towards clean and healthy living, a first organic food market came up at Shahzada Nand College. The initiative undertaken by Dilbir Foundation brought 25 farmers from across the region, with their organic produce, including vegetables, pulses, food grains, dairy products and herbs on one platform.

“Most people are now growing conscious of chemicals going into their food, especially, everyday items like vegetables and fruits. Going by the awareness among consumers, there is a huge demand for organic, naturally produced agro-products,” said Vishwajeet S Jayani, a young organic farmer from Fazilka.

“There is only hurdle, which is lack of avenues for direct producer-buyer interaction. Such markets will definitely help filling in gaps as we hope to raise the demand-supply cycle,” he added.

Jyani, who runs a 100 acre natural farm in Fazilka was one of the young farmers in the state, who took a leap of faith eight years ago and switched to organic farming.

He said, “We started with zero budget farming, where we incorporated various natural techniques in growing sugarcane, wheat, cotton and even cash rich crops like pulses, dwarf varieties of orchards and millets. The current demand of the market is for cold compressed oils, mustard crops, jaggery and seeds like alsi.”

“Contrary to the belief organically grown products are cheaper and help farmers increase their profit margins. Our pulses cost Rs 110 to 120 per kg where as the market rate is Rs 200 to Rs 300. Similarly, vegetables like cauliflower or raddish sell at Rs 10 to Rs 20 Rs per kg. It is not higher than the market price of chemically grown vegetables. The price difference increases when there are middlemen involved, which is why more such open markets are needed,” he added.

Endorsing his views, another young organic farmer Kawalpreet Singh Judge, said, “Ideally a farmer can save up to Rs 10,000 per acre by stopping use of pesticide. Eventually, the market and consumers will accept natural ways of farming as it produces better yield, without harming fertility of the soil. Sustainable crops like vegetables, fruits varieties and sugarcane are popular among cultivators as they are in demand.”

Some interesting herbs like stevia plant, which is a variety of tulsi, attract attention for its health benefits. “It can be used as a natural replacement for sugar as its tastes sweet and contains no calories,” said Deepak Babbar, a promoter.

Another farmer, who uses vermin compost as manure to grow apples said, “Vermin compost is now being used by farmers in the Kashmir valley for high yield of apples.”

Similarly, The Earth Store, which grows spices and herbs on a land leased in Kerela, has brought unpolished and unprocessed spices. “These spices and grains like millets are steam sterilised and heat compressed to retain nutrients of the crops,” said Gunbir Singh, chairman, Dilbir Foundation.

He said, “Punjab farmers have to be introduced to crops of different varieties to break the vicious cycle of wheat-paddy cultivation. The soil and waters in Punjab are laden with chemicals. Agricultural productivity is stagnant and farm income is inadequate.”

“The excessive use of toxic inputs has taken a huge toll on the health of both the consumer and the producer. I am sure that we all value health of our families. We should motivate farmers to opt for organic farming,” he added.

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