Organic farming is becoming popular in Punjab, the granary of India. The State has been facing serious problems due to the deterioration of soil and sub-soil water, including drinking water, due to the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides by farmers.
The Punjab government is encouraging farmers to take up organic farming and give up the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
Motivated by the Organic Farming Council of Punjab, a government initiative to encourage diversification in agriculture through macrobiotic farming, many farmers have now taken to natural ways of farming.
About 1,200 farmers have registered themselves with the Organic Farming Council for the free of cost training in organic farming.
The registration enables them to enjoy the council's grant of rupees 1.2 lakh, a sum required to be paid to the government in lieu of a certificate which is a must to sell organic farm trademark product in the market.
Jasbir Singh of Punjab's Fatehgarh District has taken to organic farming and stresses on the urgent need for the discontinuation of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. He believes in bring transformation with the help of farmers of about a dozen nearby village.
He says: "It will take some time to farmers to fully adopt it. The farmers are facing uncertainty and caught in the loan's vicious circle. The trend is such that without a loan, farmers cannot survive. But slowly and steadily, they will be free by pursuing others as we form a chain."
The council will pay for certification fees for the registered farmers.
The council's main objective is to focus on shifting Punjab from primary agriculture and low value produce to the high value processed products.
Organic Farming Council, set up a year ago, acquired a model organic farm spread over 577 acres of land. Today, it enables farmers to learn scientific ways of preparing vermi-compost and other natural ways using cow urine to fight termites in citrus plants.
Besides, the Punjab government has set up three other Special Purpose Vehicles to promote citrus and fruit juices, value-added horticulture and viticulture.
Dr. Madhu Gill of the Organic Farming Council of Punjab, said: "There are demands from foreign countries. We have got queries from abroad. Also, people from Singapore and Malaysia approached us because this is a government initiative to promote organic farming."
He added: "In other States, non-government organisations are doing this. Therefore, everybody feels that we can give them in bulk. Unless and until our produce is totally certified, we not commit it to anybody. It has a bright future because otherwise immune system and serious diseases like cancer will keep on cropping us due to chemicals' residuals."
To market the organic products - vegetables, fruits, pulses and cereals - was another challenge. For this, the council opened outlets selling their produce.
Organic farming is a form of agriculture that excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators, and livestock feed additives.
Organic farmers generally take up methods like crop rotation, integrated pest management, crop residue, compost and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and control pests.
Though expensive, the products are a hit among the health conscious people.