1.71 lakh farmers grow chemical-free crops in Himachal

Shimla, Sep 11 (IANS): A total of 1.71 lakh farmers in Himachal Pradesh are growing crops without chemicals, according to a statement released on Sunday. An online portal for the certification of 50,000 farmers practicing natural farming will also be developed, he said.

Farmers are also happy to use natural resources without using chemical fertilizers or spraying pesticides. This was made possible through the flagship program of the state government – Prakritik Kheti Khushal Kisan Yojana.

With government incentives, farmers’ inclination towards natural farming has increased many folds in the state. Oriented towards agriculture without chemical fertilizers, women play an important role in advancing Himachal in the production of natural crops, according to an official statement.

The people of Panjayanu village in Pangana sub-district of Mandi district have set an example by embracing natural farming.

Local farmer Leena Sharma has inspired villagers to embrace natural farming by leading by example. She had the chance to attend the agronomist and Padma Shri Subhash Palekar training camp organized by the Ministry of Agriculture.

After that, Leena started natural farming in her fields and with her inspiration today about 30 families in the village have adopted her.

Another woman from the village, Satya Devi, has become a master trainer in natural agriculture. Apart from traditional crops, groundnut, garlic, chilli, legumes, beans, tomato, brinjal, pepper, flaxseed and coriander are grown in the village.

Natural farming has increased the efficiency and fertility of their fields, while their income has also increased.

Official data indicates that about 9,421 hectares are cultivated through natural techniques by 1.71 lakh farmers in the state.

For this fiscal year, the state has set a goal of putting 50,000 acres into natural agriculture. In addition, 50,000 farmers will be certified as natural farmers. An online portal is also being developed for this purpose.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also praised Himachal Pradesh’s natural farming model on national forums.

The goal of Prakritik Kheti, Khushal Kisan Yojana is to increase income by reducing the cost of agricultural production, to save the soil and humans from the harmful effects of chemical agriculture.

Under this program, the solution of indigenous cow dung and cow urine (gau mutra) and local flora is used to spray crops instead of chemical pesticides.

To manufacture inputs for use in natural farming, farmers receive a 75% subsidy on barrels, subject to a maximum of Rs 750 per barrel.

A farming family can get this benefit on three of these drums. A total subsidy of 80% is given to Gaushala Parivartan for making Gaushalas or cowsheds and collecting cow urine, with a maximum limit of Rs 8,000.

For the supply of inputs used in natural agriculture, there is also assistance of up to Rs 10,000 for the opening of reserves of natural agricultural resources in each village.

So far, around Rs 58.46 crore has been spent under the Pratikriti Kheti Khushal Kisan Yojana.

In addition to the development of a natural farming model in the 3,615 panchayats, work is underway to convert 100 villages into natural farming villages.

With the aim of making farmers self-sufficient, a goal of creating 10 new OPAs (Producing Peasant Organizations) based on natural agriculture has been set up in the state.