Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) [India], September 15 (ANI): In an attempt to promote environmentally friendly farming, the Himachal Pradesh Agriculture Department launched a ‘Mobile Van Program’ under the ‘Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana’ on Friday in Shimla.
The Secretary of the Agriculture Department of Himachal Pradesh C Paulrasu launched the eco-friendly vehicle in the state capital to promote organic and chemical-free farming practices aimed at delivering fresh, organic produce directly to consumers’ doorsteps.
Addressing the media on organic farming C Paulrasu said, “The ‘Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana’ is a five-year plan for the comprehensive welfare and prosperity of farmers and gardeners.””The scheme will reduce the cost of farming, increase income and protect people from the ill effects of chemical farming on humans and the environment. Additionally, it will open the door for agriculture which is to make it adaptable to the environment and for the changing climate,” he added.
Natural farming refers to the type of agriculture in which the use of chemicals like pesticides, fertilisers, growth regulators, food additives, and genetically modified organisms are entirely shunned. In place of chemical-based inputs, natural farming utilises methods like crop rotation, use of green manures and compost, biological pest control and mechanical cultivation.
“All other chemical-free farming techniques, such as organic farming, are included in this program. Natural farming has produced good results over the past five years, and as of now, its methods have been adopted by nearly all the panchayats of the state,” he said.
The Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana website ‘www.spnfhp.in’ was launched for this certification in October 2022. So far more than 89,000 natural farming farmers from across the state have been registered under this scheme.
Speaking about the marketing of natural products Paulrasu said that an outlet has been opened in Shimla on a pilot basis to provide natural farming products to the consumers in urban areas 365 days a year.
Apart from this, a retail outlet has also been opened in Namhol and Bilaspur in collaboration with the Kamdhenu Hitkari Sanstha. All around the state, natural farmers are selling their products at their own prices. They have been provided canopies in this case to offer them a unique identity and effective marketing, he stated.
The new initiative will enable to ensure the availability of natural farming products to customers through mobile vans. With this, urban consumers will be able to get natural farming products near them, he said.
As part of the plan, efforts are being made to create farmer-product enterprises to market the goods produced by farmers who practise natural farming extensively. Ten firms were initially founded, but only seven have begun operations since completing the registration process in Shimla, Solan, Sirmaur, Bilaspur Mandi, and Una.
The research on natural farming done by Management Hyderabad and the Academy of Management Lucknow also produced excellent outcomes. According to the studies done by these two organisations, farmers who practise natural farming earn more money and pay less for their crops, stated C Paulrasu.
HP Deputy Director of the Agriculture Department Ravinder Jaslotia said that the Himachal Government has set a target of identifying Himachal Pradesh as a ‘Natural Farming State’ by connecting all the 9 lakh 61 thousand farmers of the state with ‘Subhash Palekar Natural Farming’ (SPNF) method.
“This van has been launched by the department to encourage organic and natural farming. This van will stay here at the Secretariat and will go to Summerhill. We want the people to eat and grow healthy,” said Ravinder Jaslotia.
According to current data, so far 1,71,664 farmer-gardener families have adopted this farming method on full or partial land. This method has reached 99.3 percent of the panchayats of the state and farming and horticulture are being done using this method on more than 3 lakh 2 thousand bighas (24,210 hectares) of land, said Jaslotia.
In the financial year 2023-24, a target has been set to bring 50 thousand bighas (20,000 hectares) of land under natural farming and to certify more than 80,000 farmers.
Talking about the new efforts under the plan Jaslotia said, “Under the scheme, a unique self-certification system has been prepared which meets the national and international standards recognized across the world.”With this certification, natural farming farmers selling products in the market can be easily identified. This certification system is completely free and under this, the farmer does not need to get certified every year, he added. (ANI)