13 pc farmers in state adopt low-cost natural farming

Shimla, September 17

Around 13 per cent of the farmers of Himachal Pradesh have adopted the low-cost non-chemical climate-resilient Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) technique in just three years. It is being promoted under a state-led programme to meet the objectives of the Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana Project since 2018.

As per government records, 129,299 farmers, including 12,000 apple growers, have switched over to the SPNF largely on small land. The total area under the SPNF is 7,456 hectares. However, the number of farmers, who have been trained to adopt the technique, is 1,35,172.

Experts say the SPNF technique cuts dependence on the external market and is based on indigenous cows. The farmers can prepare sprays from the urine and cow dung at the farm and just need some local resources like plant extracts, jaggery and gram flour. It reduces water requirement of the crops, too.

The natural farming checks plant diseases and the produce is chemical free and healthy.

Surender Pirta, an apple grower in Jubbal of Shimla district, says, "I adopted natural farming on my 55 bighas. Earlier, I was spending Rs 3 lakh on chemical fertilisers and pesticides in my orchard but now my cost has now come down to Rs 50,000. My income has risen from Rs 12 lakh to Rs 15 lakh in the past two years".

State project Director Rakesh Kanwar says that the focus now is to increase the area under natural farming on a mass scale. "Still those who have adopted have been practising natural farming on a small land, say one-third of the farm, and this is the major challenge. Once farmers start getting better results with reduced direct costs, boosting yields and also incentivised by the market, this will bring a behavioural change to stop the use of costly fertilisers and pesticides that is degrading the soil and leading to health hazards," he says. IANS

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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