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French nat’l keen on introducing HP’s natural farming back home

“If we want to sustain ourselves in a more natural way, non-chemical farming is a great option,” Carole Durand said.

SNS | Shimla |

After the clarion call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of India Ram Nath Kovind for shunning chemical farming, the Himachal Pradesh’s model of natural farming has found another taker in French national Carole Durand.

Durand (28), a native of Aveyron in France and who is in Himachal Pradesh with her friend Shahzad Parbhoo from Maharashtra, found the state government’s Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana (PK3Y), a sustainable mode of farming for future.

“If we want to sustain ourselves in a more natural way, non-chemical farming is a great option,” Carole Durand said.

Now she is in Himachal Pradesh to have a firsthand knowledge of the low-cost climate resilient natural farming technique being promoted in the state which is devised by Subhash Palekar (Padma Shree awardee).

The PK3Y technique is also known as Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) in HP and till date as many as 1,33,056 farmers on 7609 hectares have already adopted it after getting trained by the State Project Implementing Unit (SPIU).

Durand is a nurse and came to India five years back as she was interested in Yoga. Together for the last three years, she, along with Parbhoo, a management professional, has been exploring the possibilities of non-chemical agriculture as a livelihood option.

“My grandfather, who was a strawberry farmer in Correze in France, died of brain cancer supposedly because strawberries required frequent chemical sprays. The chemical farming has done much damage to the health of farmers in that area,” said Durand.

She said there is awareness among people about organic farming in France but natural farming is amazing.

Durand said the farmers in the hill state are so warm and they stayed with one of the apple growers, Rajpal Gejta, an ex-serviceman, a progressive farmer from Rohru, who is doing natural farming on 5.5 bigha.

He talks high about it and he told us about the challenges of keeping an indigenous cow, she added.

She stated even in France, there is a concept of farmer families, like she saw in Himachal Pradesh, where the entire family works in fields.

Durand friend, Parbhoo said he had incidentally met Dr Rajeshwar Singh Chandel, Executive Director, PK3Y last year while he was doing a one year apprenticeship at an agriculture farm (based on bio-dynamics) near Anand in Gujarat.

There he got to know about the natural farming initiatives in Himachal Pradesh, wherein the farmers are not using any chemical fertilizer or pesticide.

After this, Parbhoo and Durand visited a number of farmers in Himachal earlier this month who are practicing natural farming of vegetables, cereals, pulses and fruits, on part of their land in Kangra, Mandi, Shimla and Solan districts.

Both of them find themselves enriched with knowledge on the concept.

“In Maharashtra the development has eaten up the agriculture fields near urban areas in a big way. In Himachal, we saw agriculture farms everywhere and most of them are taking multiple crops from the same field after they switched to natural farming,” observed Parbhoo.

He said the farmers in HP were quite aware of the advantages of non chemical natural farming in the long run.

A number of them said they were fed up with the overuse of chemicals which was increasing their expenditure while crop production was either stagnant or declining, he said.

The duo was all praise for Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) staff, working under SPIU, for regularly connecting with the farmers for emerging issues.

“It has been a great learning,” they said, while sharing their experience with Executive Director, PK3Y, Dr Rajeshwar Singh Chandel, State Project Director, Rakesh Kanwar and Secretary, Agriculture, Dr Ajay Sharma in Shimla and said it had been a great learning for them.

It is worth mentioning here that on 6 September, PM while addressing the state for achieving 100 per cent Covid vaccination of the eligible population and on 17 September, the President Kovind had called for shunning chemical farming and adopting natural farming for healthy lifestyle.