Talwara goes organic

Dr. Banarsi Lal
Jammu and Kashmir is a mountainous state         in  which Jammu region is predominantly         sub-tropical while Kashmir and Ladakh regions are temperate. The total geographical area of Jammu & Kashmir state is 2, 22, 236 sq. km  and its population is 1, 25, 48,926 as per         2011 Census. Agriculture is the mainstay          of Jammu and Kashmir state. This sector                provides employment to about 70 per cent                 of the state population.
Agriculture contributes about 65 per cent of the state revenue which signifies the overdependence of the state on agriculture. The average size of land holding of the state is only 0.67 hectare against 1.33 hectares’ land holding size on national basis.  Organic farming is picking up pace in the state and there is need of awareness and trainings of farmers for organic farming. J&K has huge potential for organic farming as the large area in the state is already under semi-organic cultivation in hilly districts of the state due to the lack of availability of chemical fertilizers in these areas and the farmers of these areas avoid to apply the chemical fertilizers. Basmati rice of R. S. Pura, rajmash of Bhaderwah, potato of Gurez and Machil and red rice of Tangdar, Kupwara, ginger and turmeric of Pouni, Reasi are major exportable organic products in the state and have the potential to fetch more returns in the market. Organic farming means holistic production systems which refer earth friendly methods for cultivation and food processing. It differs from other systems by the certification procedures, specific standards and a specific labeling scheme. Organic farming respects the environment by friendly practice of weeds, insect-pests and diseases control.
Talwara village is situated around 6km away from Reasi town of Jammu and Kashmir. It is located on Reasi- Shiv Khori road. The village is constituted of two parts one is Lower Talwara and other one is Upper Talwara.59 families reside in Lower Talwara. All the families of the village are depending on agriculture. The village is known for organic farming. Baseline survey of village Talwara was done by the KVK experts and it was found that the farmers of the village were interested for the organic farming especially vegetables and spices. Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Reasi scientists repeatedly approached to the farmers of this village and motivated them for the organic farming. The KVK scientists frequently visited the village and trained the farmers for the organic farming emphasizing on organic vegetables growing. The farmers’ clubs’/SHG formation was initiated in the village with the co-ordination of NABARD. The farmers’ clubs were encouraged for the organic vegetables growing in the village. In the beginning the farmers were advised to avoid the agro-chemicals in the vegetables so that that the can be organically grown. The farmers were guided for the establishment of vermicompost units in the village so that the soil nutrients requirements can be fulfilled. They were also guided for use of organic chemicals, green manuring crops, compost, crops rotation etc. for the organic farming. In the beginning the farmers faced lot of problems as they were not getting the desired yields of the vegetables. The management of insect-pests and plant diseases was done by using the organic inputs. The quality vegetables seeds were provided to the farmers. After a long practice the certification of their products was done by the InterTech Agency through Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). Now the farmers of the village are commercially selling the organic vegetables. Their vegetables are marked as organic vegetables and they are sold in the local market and also in Jammu at a good price. There are 8 farmers’ clubs and one Self Help Group(SHG) of women who are working for the organic vegetables production. KVK, Reasi has also established an Integrated Farming System(IFS) model in the village which attracts the other farmers of the area for the IFS system. This IFS model is producing the organic crops and also has a high tech dairy farm. By this entrepreneurship the farmers generate the extra income which develops the confidence and gain reconisation.
Farmers of this area were lacking the awareness on protected vegetables growing. As the hilly district Reasi is prone to frost in winters which has inverse impact on the growth of vegetables causing a huge loss to the vegetables. Also the farmers were unable to produce the off -season vegetables. So, there was dire need to introduce the protected cultivation in the area. KVK experts guided the farmers for the protected cultivation of vegetables. Low cost poly houses are established at the farmers’ fields which have changed the way of their traditional method of vegetables growing. Under polyhouse the farmers’ area able to grow the vegetables seedlings and that too without the infestation of insect-pests and diseases. Now, the farmers of the village getting extra income by growing the organic vegetables under polyhouse. By observing the results of polyhouse the farmers of the nearby villages also show curiosity for the protected vegetables growing.
By growing the organic vegetables, the farmers are fetching more prices. By observing the successful results of organic vegetables growers in Talwara village, the other farmers of the adjoining villages are also showing keen interest for organic vegetables growing. With the introduction of polyhouse technique of vegetables growing the farmers are able to generate extra income by growing the vegetables even in the off-seasons. With the introduction of vermicompost units the farmers are able to fulfil the need of the required soil nutrients in the vegetables growing. With the generation of extra income organic vegetables growers developed confidence to mitigate their basic problems.  A self- reliance and entrepreneurial spirit has been developed among the organic vegetables growers. Their new attitude for organic farming has been developed. With the increase in the income of the organic vegetables growers their respect and reconisation have also been increased in the society. They exhibit their organic farm produce in different farmers’ fairs organised by SKUAST-J& allied departments and recognised by the different organisations.
(The writer  is a Scientist and Head of KVK Reasi  (SKUAST-J).