ICAR-ATARI, Ludhiana organized a Brainstorming Meeting on “Challenges and Solutions in Implementation of Natural Farming in North-Western India” on June 1, 2023. The meeting aimed at clarifying doubts related to Natural Farming through the identification of efficient and practical solutions and developing a roadmap for innovative and efficient cooperative/ digital/ direct marketing models for Natural Farming produce. Dr. Rajeshwar Chandel, Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor YSPUHF, Solan was the Chief Guest, and Dr. Hari Om, Gurukul Kurukshetra was the Guest of Honour.
Dr. Rajeshwar Chandel in his address talked about the status, scope, challenges, and imperativeness of Natural Farming in Himachal Pradesh and suggested the way forward. He revisited the commitments of the Hon’ble Prime Minister for revolutionizing Indian agriculture through self-sufficiency in pulses and oilseeds production, diversifying food baskets, realizing One Health, optimizing the supply chain process from farm to fork, etc. He also highlighted the ill effects of chemical use in agriculture in terms of reduction in the populations of predators and pollinators, reports of eye irritation, skin allergies, etc. in Himachal Pradesh. He also clarified the basic difference between Organic and Natural Farming based on their principles. Finally, he explained the Natural Farming Produce certification process implemented by Himachal Government for transparency and traceability. He appealed to the participants to ensure slow but steady efforts to popularize Natural Farming.
During his talk, Dr. Hari Om explained the dynamics of water, soil, and climate while terming Natural Farming as the Farming of Microbes. He emphasized treating soil as a living entity, returning what has been extracted from soil, restoring the resources, and not using any outside input as the basic philosophy of Natural Farming. He also stressed the importance of minimum/ zero tillage or conservation agriculture to ensure proper Natural Farming. He called it a system rather than individual parts and missing any of the parts would collapse the performance of the entire system. He urged the scientists and farmers to dig deeper into the understanding of biotic and abiotic developments in the farms practicing Natural Farming.
Earlier, Dr. Parvender Sheoran, Director, ICAR-ATARI, Ludhiana, briefed about the activities and progress of the Natural Farming project implemented by the KVKs of the Zone. He emphasized the need for a clear strategy and vision that is necessary for popularizing Natural Farming. He insisted on working in tandem with all the stakeholders for better implementation and generating empirical data. At last, he highlighted the need to develop mechanisms to ensure the proper market for the produce of Natural Farming.
About 50 participants including experts from the Division of Agricultural Extension, ICAR; PAU, Ludhiana; YSPUHF, Solan; Heads and Scientists of KVKs of Zone-I; farmer and farm women and Scientists from the organizing institute have participated.