Organic farming — present need
Today’s farming scenario has a lot to change. The size of land holdings are decreasing because of which the number of marginal and small farmers is increasing. After the advent of green revolution, the age-old farming pattern was changed. India became self-sufficient in food grain production. But by the time the consequences of this revolution have started showing up. The farmers have completely shifted towards the rice-wheat pattern. It is high time to change the present farming scenario by educating the farmers and let them know about the existing policies, organised workshops to provide them a direction towards futuristic farming. The indiscriminate use of fertilizers is destroying the soil health and polluting the soil, harmful chemical residues are getting mixed up with the water resources which is sufficient to cause any serious health problems like CANCER.
A nation that destroys its soil,
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
Farmers themselves are also aware about the cons of this cropping pattern but they don’t have any other option to fetch a good income to raise their families. The facilities like MSP, subsidy on Urea and electricity don’t let them shift to other cropping pattern. Fortunately, there are some farmer organisations which are aware of the deteriorating soil conditions and wants to put an end to poison consumption. So there are the organisations which help the farmers in different ways.
Luckily, I got a chance to attend the meeting of one such organisation, IFA — Innovative farmers’ association. This is a Hoshiarpur based organisation with a cluster of 52 farmers dealing in all kinds of farm related stuff like turmeric, rice, jaggery, cucurbits, wheat, okra, maize, vermicompost, dairy farming etc.
By attending the meeting i got to know the existing farming practices, future plans, present problems faced by them and much more. Majority of the farmers are willing to shift to other cropping schemes but the problem is they don’t know how. No doubt, Government of India started many schemes for the upliftment of the farmers but the irony is that the farmers are not aware about the schemes. For this cause IFA invited DDM Hoshiarpur Dr. G. S. Bindra to throw some light on the FPOs (Farmer Producer Organisation) which is a scheme started by the apex development bank NABARD for the farmers to group together and sell their produce. The farmers had a healthy conversation with the DDM and cleared their doubts to form an FPO. All the farmers in the meeting were experienced, well-educated and practicing organic farming which indicated they were aware of the ongoing work in farming sector. Some of them were even the certified organic farmers. Having such innovative farmers amongst them made me curious to know where and how they were practicing organic farming.
When I contacted some of them, their views for organic produce were different.
“We produce organic turmeric on 2.5 acres and rice on 2.5 acres but not getting a good price for our produce and not even proper market. We sell our produce to neighbours, relatives and friends. We would love if a platform is created where we can directly sell our produce to the consumers” — Harpreet Singh, a farmer from Tanda (Hoshiarpur).
Yet there were farmers who had a large demand for their farm produce. Some of them were producing for their own consumption only. There was a large demand for wheat. The wheat orders were booked before harvest.
“I don’t face any problem while selling my produce. I have good relationships with my customers so they just come and buy whatever I produce. Moreover, my farming standards are very high, so if my produce is not up to the mark and I am not satisfied enough I just plough my produce back into the field” — Surender Singh from Gurdaspur
There was complete diversity amongst the farm commodities which were being produced or prepared by them. There were farmers dealing in vermicompost and jaggery.
“I was fascinated by earthworms each and every time I saw them and then one day I was selected by Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana to get training about vermicompost production. I was extremely happy and waited for the time when I would be having earthworms in my own worm pit. Initially my village people used to make fun of me but as I succeeded everyone used to visit me and asked me to help them in establishing vermiculture set up” — Surjeet Singh Chaggar from Chaggran (Hoshiarpur)
The farmers were happy to see someone from the younger generation visiting them. They all further invited us get involved in their meetings. My overall experience was auspicious. It was a great exposure visiting the farmers. Being an agriculture student, I am fond of agriculture but never got such an experience where we can have one on one talk with the farmers about their real-world problems apart from the theoretical knowledge provided by books in the colleges. Looking forward to have more such visits with kind and generous people.