As Organic farming is gaining impetus around the globe, especially in the Western countries, efforts have begun to bring Kashmir on the map of organic farming and with every passing day more and more growers show their inclination towards this new concept of farming. The organic farming is not only safe and healthy but it has a potential to generate huge revenue.
Officials say that the organic farming in J&K is still in its beginning, but there is a wild harvest of organic products cultivated on 32,000 hectares of land across the state. And in past few years due to the awareness more and more farmers and growers have been attracted towards the organic farming.
Of late, number of Kashmiri growers and farmers after noticing benefits of organic products has started seeking organic certification for their products from the government.
Sher – e – Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) had already enlisted hundreds of farmers and growers who have established organic farms in Kashmir and sought certification for the same purpose to start off.
A senior research officer at SKUAST said that Kashmir is a natural place for organic farming and has vast potential for it. “We have large swathes of land in the state where farmers and growers are cultivating organic products, especially walnuts, herbs and other products. On thousands of hectares of land, mostly in the rural areas, we are cultivating organic products.”
He said to promote the culture of organic farming in the Valley, after proper verification organic certification is issued to farmers and fruit growers. “Many growers and farmers are exporting their organic products, especially Walnut, Saffron and Almond to various countries and fetch handsome amounts.’’
The officer said that farmers can yield maximum benefits from the organic farming if they grow it on a large scale. “Kashmir is famous for its saffron and walnut products. Our walnut is completely organic and if farmers will use techniques saffron cultivation can also become organic. And, in present day world, there is tremendous demand for organic products, especially fruits, dry fruits and vegetables. ”
He said for the benefit of farmers and to promote the principles of sustainable agriculture, SKUAST has launched a full-fledged organic agriculture program. “Under this program, the university will be taking up many initiatives, within and outside the university,’’ he said adding that university has fixed a target that is to bring more and more land under organic cultivation.
Another officer who heads the Organic group program said that university is taking numerous measures to promote the organic farming in the Valley. “It (organic farming) has lot of benefits, very minimal money is used on fertilizers and market value of the organic products is very good compared to the non organic products,” he said, adding that once the farmer or growers get an organic certification, not only demand increases, but rates also go up.
“In Kashmir there is a lot of scope for organic farming, and in coming years, the number of growers and farmers dealing in organic products will further go up.’’ He said that under the program of SKUAST a team of experts will educate farmers and growers about benefits of the organic farming. “We have already established a big organic bio fertilizer plant in North Kashmir that will supply bio ferlisters and vermicomosotem, mechnosin and mycorrhizae azolla to farmers interested in developing organic fruits and vegetables,” he said.
“In Kashmir most of the farmers in the rural areas are still using organic methods during the vegetable cultivation. But, after, I came to know about benefits of organic farming, I have started using organic method in my strawberry farm,’’ said Bashir Ahmad, who owns a strawberry orchard in North Kashmir.
“I have already sought an organic certification for my walnut, and now I want to get same for the strawberry, the organic certification doubles the rate of our fruit in national and international markets and there are takers everywhere for organic fruits.’’
He said seeing the benefits attached with organic farming and fruit cultivation more and more farmers are inclined towards it. “In coming five-six years, the number of organic orchards will go up by more than 300 percent,’’ he said.
According to global survey conducted by Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement and Foundation Ecology and Agriculture, organic farming is presently practiced in 130 countries with a total area of 30.04 million hectares. And India doesn’t lag behind in organic farming as 5, 28,171 hectares of land is already under the organic farming cultivation and the current market export of organic products is worth rupees 2,500 crore.