Organic farming catching up fast with farmers in state

SHIMLA: Enthused by the success of pilot organic farming projects in Shimla and Rampur launched in 2005, the state Agriculture Department has extended the programme to the entire state now.

Bhanu P Lohumi

Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 30

Enthused by the success of pilot organic farming projects in Shimla and Rampur launched in 2005, the state Agriculture Department has extended the programme to the entire state now.

Farmers in rural and remote areas who made little use of inorganic fertilisers are also seen adopting the programme by default. There is craze among farmers for certification of produce and soil as organic and the department has mooted participatory support system for certification by adopting a cluster approach.

A senior scientist at the Agriculture Department said: “An organic farmer’s certification is given after three years (six crops) for cereals and four years in case of commercial crops and the cluster approach with a group of minimum of 25 organic farmers. The certification cost has been reduced and shortage of manpower and service providers has been overcome to a large extent.”

Initially, there were inhibitions among farmers to switchover to organic farming, but soon they realised that it reduced the cost of production, did not cause soil erosion and pollution and natural nutrients are retained and also the returns in the market were 15 to 20 per cent higher, he added.

Organic farming is being practiced on 15,548 hectare land and 26,000 farmers have been registered, out of which 3,397 farmers, cultivating 2,695 hectare land has been certified. In Khkhorala village in Rampur, 100 per cent farmers are certified as organic.

The Department has selected specific locations in different areas for different crops and farmers in Kukti in tribal Bharmaur area and Sangla in tribal Kinnaur district are producing organic Kala zeera and Rajmah. The switchover to organic farming has been very swift as farmers in these areas are not using much inorganic inputs due to inaccessibility and high cost.

The certification process is documentation based and vigorous screening and monitoring is done. All reports are sent to the network and certification is granted after thorough verification.

The department is training resource persons by step by step motivation and has created a chain of 2,016 local persons.

Efforts are being made to train local resource persons to meet the entire demand and the department is also organising organic fairs for farmers and buyers, training programmes and getting feedback about the technological requirements and knowledge level of farmers.

The required technological information and other assistance are provided on the level of farmers and it is a slow and steady process, said a spokesman of the department.

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