Agriculture World

Himachal to certify Farmers doing Natural Farming; Give Rs 25,000 subsidy to buy indigenous cows

Kanika Dhamija
Kanika Dhamija
apple

To boost zero budget natural farming in Himachal, the government is working towards certifying at least 15,000 farmers and apple growers practicing chemical-free cultivation.

“We have started working on the certification process and once it happens, the farmers will get much better price for their produce,” said Onkar Sharma, Principal Secretary, Agriculture. Sharma said around 65,000 farmers and 6,700 apple growers had already adopted natural farming.

While apple growers at many places have complaints regarding the size and colour of fruit this year, largely because of the adverse climatic conditions, Sharma said the orchardists practicing “natural farming were not facing problems regarding size and colour.” “Besides, the shelf life of a naturally grown apple is much longer vis-à-vis those grown with the help of chemicals,” added Sharma.

Sharma said the government was giving a subsidy of Rs 25,000 to buy indigenous cows, “a prerequisite for natural farming”, and some other assistance. “While the input cost is almost negligible in natural farming, the productivity is much higher compared to chemical-driven agriculture,” said Sharma.

On an average, Himachal contributes 30-40% of total apple production in India, followed by Kashmir, which is at the top with 50% production.At present, 4,754 apple growers in the apple belt in Shimla district, which produces 70% of the apple harvest in Himachal, have switched to the Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) technique in their orchards, covering an area of 345.332 hectares over the last three years as a part of state government’s project.According to latest numbers available, 6700 apple growers in the state have adopted SPNF. This natural technique requires lesser input and gives better output in terms of ‘healthy fruit’ and market price.

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“The growers are satisfied with results so far. They have been getting a better price for apples produced with natural farming through different link-ups even without certification. Once they are certified, with this new the move, they will much higher price for their produce,” said an official with State Project Implementing Unit of ‘Prakritik Kheti Khushal Kisan Yojna, under which natural farming is being encouraged in Himachal. Shimla district produces 70% of total apple in the state, followed by Kullu and Kinnaur. The apple economy of Himachal runs in Rs 4000-4500 crore, with around 1.5 lakh families associated with it.

Source: PTI

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