Himachal varsity set to become scientific resource centre of natural farming: Vice Chancellor

Shimla: The Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni in Himachal Pradesh’s Solan district is set to become the first “scientific resource centre of natural farming” for all the mountain states in the country and across the world, according to the university’s newly-appointed vice chancellor Rajeshwar Singh Chandel.
In an interview to PTI, Chandel said his efforts would be to make the university the first “scientific resource centre of natural farming” for the entire region as well as the world.
The university will create a focused pilot project on natural farming by establishing demonstration farms in eight panchayats surrounding the campus, following the principles of “learning by doing and seeing is believing”, said Chandel who is also the executive director of Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana (PK3Y) of Himachal Pradesh government.
“We will develop a model on four principles of natural farming initiated by Padma Shree awardee Subhash Palekar and build a natural ecosystem model in these panchayats in the vicinity. This will generate scientific data and will be easier for the students and outsiders visiting the university to see and learn from it”, he said.
Chandel said: “The production system in this non-chemical, low-cost and climate-resilient natural farming is already established. We have to establish the scientific data now. Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry will be the first university to justify the success of natural farming in the country on a scientific basis in the next three years.”
Hailing from Ghumarwin in Bilaspur district, 54-year old Chandel is a noted entomologist with over 25 years of experience in education and research. He has played a significant role in the success of natural farming in Himachal Pradesh in the last four years since PK3Y was launched.
He is now actively engaged in policy making with NITI Aayog to start natural farming at the national level.
Chandel said the green revolution in the last century may have been a need of those times for increasing produce. However, bio-diversity has emerged as a big challenge over decades. Pests and diseases have increased with over-use of chemicals in agriculture, the traditional crops are vanishing and it is a matter of concern that area under millets has reduced drastically.
“Over time, the cultivation of vegetables increased to a great extent. But all this led to richness, not prosperity. The figures of anemia among women and stunted growth among children are a cause of concern, and throw more light on the nutritional deficiencies that have occurred with the kind of agriculture practices we have been following,” he said.
Chandel said the overall cost of cultivation has increased because of expenditure on agro-chemicals which includes fertilisers and pesticides.
“In view of all this, there is a need for re-orientation of research objectives. Natural farming will be my priority. It cuts the dependence of farmers on the market as they can make all the natural farm inputs with the dung and urine of desi cow and locally resourced plants on the farm itself.
“A study by the State Project Implementing Unit (SPIU) of PK3Y has shown that natural farming has reduced cost of cultivation by 56 per cent and has increased net income by 27 per cent. It improves soil health and the produce is nutritious,” he said.
Chandel said the success rate of Himachal Pradesh model of natural farming went beyond the boundaries of state and the country, and 1.70 lakh farmers are currently practising natural farming in the hill state.
The Nauni University VC said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also appreciated natural farming. —PTI



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