The success of organic farming in western and southern states is attracting more farmers of Punjab in its fold. Organic-farming experts and practitioners from different states, including Karnataka and Maharashtra, gathered at Teachers' Home in Bathinda for a three-day Vatavaran Utsav (natural farming and environmental festival) on Friday and talked about the issues involved.
The Kheti Virasat Mission has organised the event to educate the state's farmers about organic farming, and how it can cut the use of pesticides that poison soil, water, and crop.
Farmer Angrej Singh Bhullar of Muktsar's Bhullar village spoke on "from harvest to marketing" of organic crop. "Organic farming benefited me a lot," he told the gathering. "I have my own plant to pack organic paddy, which enables me to sell the output on the market for a modest price of Rs 70 per kg. To traders, my word is guarantee."
Bhullar also produces worm manure, which is in great demand and takes minimal space to grow. Of his 8 acres, he has grown organic vegetables on 2.5."
"Use the sunlight" is the motto of Karnataka farmer Suresh Desai, who has trained more than 1 lakh farmers in the art of making profit from organic farming. His solution: go for multi-crop farming in every single field."
Desai is a plain matriculate but an expert at growing water-efficient sugarcane. He is into organic farming for the past 20 years. On 11 acres at Bedkihaal village in Belgaun district of Karnataka, he applies his knowledge. "Sunlight is unlimited," to told farmers. "Use it for multiple cropping. I call it the tier system."
He has trained farmers in Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. Even an acre of multiple organic cropping restores soil nutrients and enhances the produce without applying pesticides or chemicals.
Desai sows two crops at a time by calculating the harvest period and nutrients that the next crop would need. "Sugarcane is the main crop in his state but, in addition to that, I also grow kitchen-garden crop such as onion, soybean, paddy, turmeric (haldi), and moong (pulse)," he said. "Wheat and paddy, in rotation, can be sown together with sugarcane."
Plants can get all the nutrients, nitrogen and other material required from the soil of mix-crop field. Desai suggested that farmers made a crop calendar for mix farming and said goodbye to the expenses on pesticides and fertilisers.
Subhash Sharma of Yavatmal village in Maharashtra, who also spoke on the occasion, is an expert at growing organic vegetables. "Since 1994, I grow organic vegetables, moong, banana, and other crop on 20 acres," he said. "I saved money on chemicals and harmful sprays. I got out of debt and into huge profit."