Karsog Valley Farmers Group organises a seminar on Organic Farming in Himachal

Karsog Valley Farmers Group (KVFG) is an NGO based out of Kalasan which is a village 7 km from Churag on Mandi road. The NGO works for the benefit of farmers of the region. The group was established on 29th April 2006 and has since been working directly with farmers in disseminating information on Organic Farming techniques, Integrated Pest Management and Crop production practices to name a few. In continuation with these activities the group organised a seminar for farmers. About 150 farmers of various villages attend the seminar which was held at the Prof KL Sharma Trust (Ashram) at Thandapani.

The seminar was focused on various techniques and farm products available in the market for organic farming. In addition to this a competition was held for farmers on variety of crops they produce. A number of farmers got their best quality vegetables for the competition. The area was full of colors and aroma of the produce. Farmers were also distributed literature on various techniques practiced elsewhere in India. The meeting hall was well setup with banners on topics such as Integrated Pest Management, Water Harvesting techniques such as Kufars and various types of Bio-pesticides and plant growth enhancers.

Presentations were held on various topics such as Organic Farming products such as Bio-pesticides, Bio-fertilizers and useful organisms such as VAM, Rhizobium and Pseudo Monas. In addition to this advanced Organic farming techniques such as Biodynamics and their use at places around India was also introduced. Various other easily available bio-pesticides such as Neem oil, garlic, cow-urine and sour butter milk were discussed as easy options to use in Organic Farming. In keeping with the current curiosity around the country, a discussion was also with the farmers on the issue and concerns over the introduction of Genetically Modified Crops in India. Documentaries on Bio-dynamics, GM foods and Organic farming were also played out for the benefit of the farmers. Presenters from Delhi and Hyderabad shared their experiences with farmers and sought feedback of problems faced by them too. The harmful effects and toxicity of chemical pesticides were also discussed and farmers were sensitised in using proper protection such as gloves, masks and other gear if they had to use them as a last resort.

Mr. Vikram Rawat of KVFG introduced history, goals and vision of the NGO to the quorum. Mr. VP Rao of KN Bioscience, a company from Hyderabad supplying Bio-Organic Fertilizers and agents, explained the various agents such as bacteria and fungi available for the purpose of organic farming. Mr. Ashish Gupta from Delhi presented an introduction on Biodynamic Farming methods as practiced in Southern India. Mr. Rawat is also experimenting with biodynamic compost and Cow Pat Pit methods at his farm in Kalasan.

The participation of women in the seminar was noteworthy as was the level of interaction farmers had with the presenters. The seminar was held in Hindi and this made it easier for the farmers to relate with the information presented. Lunch was served in the traditional Himachal ‘Dham’ style and made from farm fresh produce of the region.

The vegetable competition held was noteworthy. Varieties of exotic vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, snow peas, ice lettuce, cherry tomatoes and zucchini etc. were put up on display. The farmers vehemently argued their quality with the judges which went to show that they were proud of their produce. Dr. Bhupesh Gupta an Agricultural scientist from YS Parmar University kindly judged the event on benchmarks such as shape, smoothness, presentation, crispiness, size and aroma.

This entire event was successful in disseminating information to farmers. Such events much be encouraged and arranged more frequently. In today’s time where the farmer is the only person on the chain of Economics who is at maximum risk by vagaries of weather, markets and health, it only makes sense that this community be sensitized towards more friendly techniques. As Mr. B.D. Sharma, who attended the seminar put it, Farmers are the backbone of the country and today everyone (markets, weather and policies) is trying to break this back bone. The farmer must be protected today at all costs.

More about Karsog Valley Farmers Group on their website: www.northharvest.com

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