Last week, over two hundred farmers, buyers and environmentalists from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and other States attended a workshop on organic farming conducted by a non-governmental organization.
The two-day workshop was conducted by nearly a dozen scientists from CSK Himachal Agriculture University and the Institute of Himalayan Bio-resource Technology (IHBT).
Senior officials from the Institute of Himalayan Bio-resource Technology said that it was possible to increase productivity by practicing and developing organic farming cycle.
"The farmers are not familiar with what is organic, where is it sold and how do they get certification for organic products. This is a meeting to get the people together, the buyers, the people who give certification, the kind of norms and regularity issues around organics, the markets where they are," said Dr. P. S. Ahuja, the Director of Institute of Himalayan Bio-resource Technology in Palampur.
Experts from Europe and America were also present on the occasion to promote organic modes of farming.
During the workshop the participants were informed about various methods of producing and marketing the organic produce. Besides, the information about the usage of organic products in place of inorganic chemical items that harm soil and the environment apart from affecting the ecological system was also provided.
Dr. Right Harmon, the German Agriculture Scientist noted that such a workshop was ideal as it would reach from production to internal control system and also educate the farmers on formation of local groups to follow certification procedures.
"Organic is the way to go if it concerns economics because many of the farmers are any way working in rain-fed areas. By using pesticides and mineral fertilisers, it might not be a right choice for them because they have spent a lot of money and finally," said Dr. G. Right Harmon, Agriculture scientist from Germany.
"They also have to compete with the low price in the commercial market. So organic is the definite chance to reduce cost, increase yields at a higher price," said Harmon.
The farmers attending the workshop said such workshops were a tremendous help not only for the small farmers but also entrepreneurs.
"This is one of the best things that have happened here for creating awareness about the requirement to switching over to organic farming. It is something, which is absolutely of paramount importance and the first thing, which has been taken at a non-governmental level. It is laudable," said Pubby Sarin, President Western Himalayan Society for Awareness and Upliftment.
The farmers hoped that learning organic farming production, certification and marketing will benefit them and other farmers in the State.
"The seminar will benefit us a lot and the farmers of Himachal are very enthusiastic. They are willing to produce their own produce. At the workshop, we received comprehensive information about the certification which will benefit farmers," said T. D. Singh Negi, a Kullu farmer.
Scientists and experts believe that organic farming will help in soil conservation by protecting the human health and ecosystem.
Organic farming, a form of agriculture, avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators, and livestock feed additives.
Organic farmers, as far as possible, rely on crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity to supply plant nutrients, and to control weeds, insects and other pests.