Kashmir’s Organic Farms: 32,000 Hectares And Growing

Kashmir’s Organic Farms: 32,000 Hectares And Growing

20 October 2011
The Indian Express
Mir Ehsan

Srinagar: Farmers in J&K have been doing farming without the use of chemicals on approximately 32,000 hectares of land across the state since long. But now with the growing demand for organic produce around the globe, the state is keen to take up the practice on a much larger scale. The Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) has recently enlisted more than 200 farmers who already have organic farms. While these farmers want organic certification for their produce, the varsity will help them increase the organic yield. Vice-Chancellor, SKUAST, Dr Tej Pratap Singh says he sees Kashmir saying no to chemical way of farming in the near future. “Kashmir is a natural place to go organic, the state has a vast potential in that respect.” “We already have large swathes of land in the state where farmers are growing walnuts and herbs organically. On 32,000 hectares of land, mostly in the countryside, farmers do not use chemicals at all. Many of them export walnut, saffron and almond and fetch handsome amounts. While the walnut is organic, farmers can even grow saffron organically.” But the need of the hour, Singh said, was to take up the practice on a much larger scale. Kashmir produces around 87,000 tonnes of walnut kernels annually from its 40 lakh walnut trees across the state. While walnuts are organic as no pesticides are used to grow them, saffron, which is cultivated on more than 3,000 hectares, is only ten per cent organic. SKUAST has also recently launched a full-fledged organic agriculture programme. M Y Zarger, associate director, research, who heads the varsity’s organic agriculture programme, said: “A team of experts will educate farmers and fruit growers about benefits of the organic farming.” “We have already established a big organic bio-fertiliser plant in North Kashmir that will supply bio-fertilisers and vermicompost, mycorrhizae and azolla to interested farmers,” he said. Farooq Ahmad, who has a strawberry orchard in north Kashmir, said: “In Kashmir most farmers in the countryside use organic methods to grow vegetables. After I was told about the benefits of this method, I want to use it on on my strawberry farm as well.” “I have already sought organic certification for my walnut, and now I want to get the same for the strawberry. The organic certification doubles the rate of fruits in national and international markets.’’


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