Shimla: The two-day capacity-building workshop of Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana (PK3Y) began at Dr. YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni in Solan district on Monday with Secretary Agriculture, Rakesh Kanwar throwing up some ‘key questions’ answered by natural farming in Himachal Pradesh.
“The natural farming technique has already picked up in the state after the launch of PK3Y in 2018. It is time to go beyond and the field functionaries should now look at what difference it is making on the farms when we don’t use the chemical fertilizers or pesticides, whether it is about the soil, production, environment or nutrition,” Kanwar said in his presentation on ‘Agriculture- An Overview’ at the workshop being attended by over 260 functionaries of Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) functionaries and other officers associated with natural farming in the state.
The workshop is being organized by the State Project Implementing Unit (SPIU) of PK3Y as an interactive exercise to come out with an action plan for PK3Y in Himachal Pradesh through a threadbare discussion.
The Secretary of Agriculture said the natural farming technique does answer critical questions troubling agriculture and some validation studies by PK3Y have already reflected that. He said PK3Y is now working on certification of the natural produce, establishing marketing mechanisms, forming Farmer Producer Organizations, and further expansion to take the natural farming concept forward.
He said the field staff working with the PK3Y should know the national and international context in which the natural farming technique is significant. “You can take the concept down to the field if you are convinced first,” he said.
He said the Government of India’s focus now is to ensure ‘nutrition not just the food security with agriculture which is climate resilient, protects the environment, enhances farmers’ income, improves livelihood standards, and builds up sustainable food systems.
He said to achieve all this, it is time to move from chemical, rainfed and subsistent agriculture to sustainable and smart agriculture with a focus on natural farming.
Kanwar said Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, during his visit to Himachal Pradesh recently, appreciated the state for showing the way to others on natural farming. He said natural farming has become a priority of the Central government also and a Centre of Excellence for Natural Farming for Himalayan states and a National Mission for natural farming (which may come up soon) will give a further boost to natural farming in the state.
The Secretary, Agriculture took feedback from the functionaries from all the districts on PK3Y and asked them to work out an area-specific strategy to promote natural farming in Himachal Pradesh.
Earlier, Managing Director, HP State Agriculture Marketing Board, Naresh Thakur, who is also the State Project Director for PK3Y, talked about the need for a robust marketing mechanism to sell natural products so that the farmers get a good price.
Principal Scientist, Dr. Manoj Gupta shared the details of the database on natural farming in Himachal Pradesh, while Ashish Gupta, a software engineer, and expert on agroecology with international agencies, gave a presentation on the Sustainable Food Systems.