After Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s call to the bugle for avoiding chemical agriculture, Himachal Pradesh’s model of natural agriculture found another taker in the French Carole Durand.
Durand (28), originally from Aveyron in France and who lives in Himachal Pradesh with his friend Shahzad Parbhoo of Maharashtra, found the Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana (PK3Y) of the state government, a mode of sustainable agriculture for the future.
“If we want to maintain ourselves in a more natural way, non-chemical farming is a great option,” said Carole Durand.
Now she is in Himachal Pradesh to get first hand knowledge of the low cost climate resilient natural farming technique promoted in the state and designed by Subhash Palekar (Padma Shree Award recipient).
The PK3Y technique is also known as Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) in HP and to date up to 1,33,056 farmers on 7,609 hectares have already adopted it after being trained by the Implementation Unit. of the State project (SPIU).
Durand is a nurse and came to India five years ago because she was interested in yoga. Together, over the past three years, she, along with Parbhoo, a management professional, has explored the possibilities of non-chemical agriculture as a livelihood option.
“My grandfather, who was a strawberry farmer in Corrèze, France, died of brain cancer, supposedly because the strawberries required frequent chemical spraying. Chemical agriculture has caused a lot of damage to the health of farmers in this region, ”said Durand.
She said there is awareness among people about organic farming in France, but natural farming is amazing.
Durand said the farmers in the Hill State are so warm and they stayed with one of the apple growers, Rajpal Gejta, a former military man, a progressive farmer from Rohru, who practices natural agriculture in 5 , 5 bigha.
He talks about it loudly and he told us about the challenges of keeping a native cow, she added.
She said that in France itself there is a concept of a peasant family, as she saw in Himachal Pradesh, where the whole family works in the fields.
Durand’s friend Parbhoo said he accidentally met Dr Rajeshwar Singh Chandel, executive director of PK3Y last year while doing a yearlong apprenticeship on an agricultural farm (based on biodynamics ) near Anand in Gujarat.
There he learned about natural farming initiatives in Himachal Pradesh, where farmers do not use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
After that, Parbhoo and Durand visited a number of Himachal farmers earlier this month who practice natural agriculture of vegetables, grains, legumes and fruits, on part of their land in the districts of Kangra, Mandi, Shimla and Solan.
Both are enriched by knowledge of the concept.
“In Maharashtra, development has severely eaten away at agricultural fields near urban areas. In Himachal we have seen agricultural farms everywhere and most of them take multiple crops in the same field after switching to natural farming, ”observed Parbhoo.
He said the farmers at HP were keenly aware of the long-term benefits of natural, non-chemical farming.
A number of them said they were fed up with the excessive use of chemicals which increased their expenses as agricultural production stagnated or declined, he said.
The duo praised staff at the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA), working under the leadership of SPIU, for regularly connecting with farmers for emerging issues.
“It has been a great learning,” they said, while sharing their experience with PK3Y Executive Director Dr Rajeshwar Singh Chandel, State Project Director Rakesh Kanwar and Agriculture Secretary, Dr Ajay Sharma in Shimla. learn for them.
It should be mentioned here that on September 6, the Prime Minister, while addressing the state for 100% vaccination against Covid of the eligible population and on September 17, President Kovind called for avoiding the chemical agriculture and adopt natural agriculture for a healthy lifestyle.