The use of chemical fertilisers in farming activities in Himachal Pradesh is resulting in an annual increase of 25-30 percent cancer patients in the state, Agriculture minister Ram Lal Markanda said on Tuesday.

Markanda cited the study of Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC), Shimla and said natural farming could help in reducing the number of cancer patients in the state.

“The excessive use of chemical fertilisers has not only caused degradation of soil but it is also impacting human health,” he said.

He said the government is promoting natural farming in a big way in the state and recently, two training programmes were held for farmers to adopt it.

“Around 900 farmers participated in the training camp at Palampur in Kangra district, while 787 farmers were trained in such a camp in Kufri in Shimla which concluded on Tuesday,” he said.

These farmers have been asked to inspire 10 farmers in their respective areas to adopt natural farming.

The government would also start certification of farmers who have taken up natural farming in the state so that they could get better prices of the produce, he added.

For the certification of farmers, the Agriculture Department would soon launch a mechanism to benefit them while selling their produce in the market.

In addition, the Agriculture Department in coordination with Animal Husbandry department would provide subsidy for procuring indigenous breed of cows.

This scheme would run concurrently with natural farming project and under this, a subsidy of Rs 53,000 would be provided to SC/STs while general category would be provided with Rs 45,000 subsidy for buying desi cows.

“The government would provide indigenous breed of cows to farmers and these could be procured from other states as Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat,” Markanda said. The scheme would be funded by NABARD under ‘Doodh Ganga Yojna’, he added.