Organic farming was promoted as an alternate to save fields from the side effects of chemicals and pesticides, but the farmers engaged in have been facing marketing constraints for their produce.
Many farmers have been opting for organic farming, but the space in the market for their products is very small. In Shimla fruit and vegetable market, over 99% produce is inorganic while the organic products, including vegetables, grains and fruit found rare space due to different problems.
Farmers see the cooperative efforts the only way out for the marketing the organic produce. As the production is scattered across the state, the farmers were fully dependent upon government and some cooperatives for marketing of their organic products, including vegetables, fruits and grains.
The department of agriculture has been organising organic fair and training programmes in Shimla where several cooperatives have put their stalls exhibiting organic products certified by the agency accredited by the department.
A farmer from Theog, KD Sharma said he had been attending the fair for last three years and engaged in organic farming for the past 12 years when the state government had not even promoted it on large scale.
"I have read somewhere that chemical use in farming destroys the land. I opted organic farming to protect my fields not for me but for coming generations," Sharma, who is also secretary of Theog Organic Farmer Forum, told HT.
However, he finds problem in marketing his produce. "People are less aware about the organic products. It is hard to convince people on stall to purchase our products," said he.
The department has organised a three-day fair where 20 stalls have been allotted to different cooperative societies from the state and outside. An organisation Satnam Organics Ludhiana has also put a stall of organic items. An official of Satnam Organics told HT that they had been mobilising the farmers adopt organic farming.
"Use of pesticides has destroyed our farm land and to protect it, moving towards the organic mode of farming is a must," said Palvinder Kaur, senior marketing and export executive of Satnam Organics.
As many as over 26,000 farmers have been registered under organic farming with the department of agriculture. The department of agriculture has been providing all kind of help, including technical know-how to the farmers to encourage organic farming. But farmers who have come here to participate in the technical session were worried about the marketing of their produce.
Kirti Kumar of Ribba village of Kinnaur district, who had come to participate in the technical session, said, "There is organic farming in Kinnaur as the majority of areas don't use any pesticide or chemical."
"People who adopt chemical farming in tribal Kinnaur district face several issues, including the market space," said he, adding, "The government should promote organic farming and there should be a market where only organic products should be kept for sale."
In a bid to commercialise the organic mode of farming, several farmers demanded the market space for their produce. Rattan Chand of Solan, who has come to attend the training session, said that the farmers registered under organic farming had to content with less production and therefore, they should be encouraged by providing a market and an atmosphere favourable to them.