Himachal local ‘mandis’ on the anvil for organic products

GDP

(Photo: Lalit Kumar)

Organic farmers in Himachal Pradesh would soon get openings to sell their products in local ‘mandis’ as the National Centre for Organic Farming, Ghaziabad is planning to set up markets exclusively for sale of organic farm products in the hill state.

The step has been taken to encourage farmers towards organic farming as it is not only profitable proposition to them but it also enhances nutrients in soil that are then passed on to plants and animals.

Dr Raghubir Thakur, the Subject Matter Specialist for Organic Farming in Agriculture Department, Himachal Pradesh told The Statesman, the National Centre for Organic Farming has announced to setup dedicated markets to sell organic produce.

“Presently, the organic farm products as fruits, vegetables or pulses are being sold in APMC markets in the state and the farmers are getting high remunerative prices for organic food,” he said.

Thakur said Big Basket, the online supermarket and an Amritsar based company is buying organic products from Vegetable markets of Solan and Mandi.

“At present, Shimla, Solan and Sirmaur district are leading in organic farming while villages in other districts of the state are also heading towards it. However, the production in these districts is catering to the demands of locals and nearby areas,” he added.

The organic farming is increasing its base in the state due to low cost of input involved. The farmers are not using chemicals and chemical based fertilizers which is not only saving them lot of money as they use the natural available resource but it is also increasing nutrients in soil, leading to improvement of soil health in fields.

The state government is also aiming to develop bio villages by promoting organic farming and the government planning to bring additional 2,000 hectares under organic farming in 2017-18 fiscal year.

The HP government would develop 200 bio-villages in which the farmers would use only bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides and discourage the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticide for cultivating vegetables and fruits.

To increase the area under organic farming in the state, the government is proposing to setup 20,000 vermi-compost units with 50 per cent assistance to the farmers.

The state government has also announced to state to honour and award the best three organic farmers with cash prize of Rs.3 lakh, Rs.2 lakh and Rs.1 lakh respectively.

It is worthwhile to mention here that more than 36,000 farmers in HP are already cashing in on the high demand and remunerative prices of organic food, be it fruits, vegetables or pulses.

Agriculture is the mainstay of people in the hill state as it provides direct employment to 69 per cent population. Interestingly, in landlocked valleys of HP as Pangi in Chamba district and Dodra Kwar in Shimla district, the farmers have never used pesticides and fertilisers for growing crops.

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