Farmers’ seminar puts up vegetable challenge



Mandi: This was an unusual meeting of farmers – not a protest against victimisation, not a concession-seeking delegation either. They all had gathered with the best of their produce, to share with each other the pride of being successful farmers. The farmers’ seminar at the Prof KL Sharma Trust (Ashram) in Thandapani near Mani, organised by Karsog Valley Farmers Group (KVFG), was a unique example of self-empowerment whereby village people are steering their destiny with pride and without much help.
The seminar, attended by around 150 farmers, focused on various techniques and farm products available in the market for organic farming. But the highlight of the event was a competition of farmers on various aspects of crops they produced. A number of farmers got their best quality vegetables for the competition.

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. 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.
“The entire event was successful in disseminating information to farmers. Such events should be encouraged and arranged more frequently all over the country. In today’s time where the farmer is the only person in 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 friendlier techniques.” said BD Sharma, representing a self-help group.
Vikram Rawat of KVFG spoke about the need for farmers to regroup themselves as business entities, while 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. Ashish Gupta from Delhi presented an introduction on biodynamic farming methods as practiced in Southern India.

The participation of women in the seminar was also 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.

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  1. A short presentatation on apple farming was also given to motivate apple growers.They all were surprised to see the potential available in our area after comparing our yield with New Zealand and other European countries. they were also assured to provide information time to time .

    • It seems that as much effort is being done by the individuals and Govt. for apple many other crops have better potential to give better produce even with half the effort. Is anybody listening.

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