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Urban farming is a centralized operation involving gardening, mushroom cultivation, aquaculture, bee keeping, Bonsai cultivation in balconies and other places for producing fresh food or for employment. Due to rising interest in consumption of self produced clean and hygienic food, many innovations are developing across the globe in Urban agriculture that include indoor farming with LED lights mimicking sunlight for year round production, vertical and mushroom farming that addresses space constraints, hydroponics, aquaponics, digital initiatives etc. The EEI, Hyderabad team recognized the need to improve the expertise of Extension experts in the field of innovations in urban farming therefore organised a webinar on 16th October 2023 from 10 am to 2pm at EEI, Hyderabad. The participants included 63 middle level extension officers belonging to states of Andhrapradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Odisha, Karnataka and Telangana and Union territories of Andaman and Nicobar islands and Puducherry representing Agricultural universities, Krishi Vignan Kendra, State departments of Agriculture, Horticulture, Fisheries, Sericulture, Dairy Development, Soil Survey and Soil Conservation. Dr. R. Vasantha, Professor moderated and other EEI faculty took part in the programme. The webinar was delivered by 3 experts well versed in the domain of “Innovations in Urban farming”. They are:
1. Dr. Dayaram, Consultant (Mushrooms), Rajendraprasad Central Agricultural University, Bihar
2. Smt. P. Usharaju, Director, Avaniorganics, Andhra Pradesh
3. Shri . D. Kishore, Master trainer in Bonsai farming
Dr. R. Vasantha, Professor, EEI invited all the delegates to the webinar by extending a warm welcome to the august gathering. In his opening remarks, Dr. M. JaganMohanReddy, Director, EEI, informed the participants of the significance of urban farming. According to him, as more people move from the countryside to the metropolis, there is a growing need for food and urban gardening offers many chances for growing own, chemical-free food and selling any surplus. He continued by saying that bonsai farming and mushroom farming are two additional crucial enterprises with promising futures for young business people. Dr. R. Vasantha, Professor introduced the speakers by highlighting the untiring works done by them in developing new innovations in Urban farming. Speaking to the group, first speaker, Dr. Dayaram remarked that metropolitan settings with limited space, water, and ventilation are excellent locations for mushroom gardening. He told the attendees that if all recommended practices are followed, a good crop of mushrooms can be collected in a little area. He continued by saying that mushrooms have much of potential for value addition outside of traditional recipes. 50 value-added mushroom products, including powder, pickles, cookies, samosas, namkeen and ladoos, are prepared at Rajendra Central Agricultural University, 10 of which are branded. He concluded by saying that he is prepared to offer technical assistance to any eager individuals who are interested in starting a mushroom farm. According to next speaker, Smt. P. Usharaju, the Hudhud cyclone opened her eyes and gave her the idea to construct a terrace garden. She ascertained that urban gardening is possible for everyone, on rooftops, balconies, on the ground, vacant lots, and farms, regardless of gender or age. Urban gardening, in her opinion, is therapeutic, provides year-round fresh produce free of pesticide or chemical residue and increases awareness of the environment in both adults and children. In response to a participant’s query on preventing fruit drop in pomegranates, she advised using Jeevamrutam made from cow products for optimum nutrition. In response to another question about terrace leakage issues, she recommended using pot stands rather than placing pots directly on the ground and application of leak proof. She concluded her talk by appealing all the audience to produce and consume their own food which is safe and hygienic. The last speaker, Shri . D. Kishore sharing his work experiences on Bonsai said that Bonsai is actually two words, “Bon”, and “Sai”. The word “Bon” means “tray” & “Sai” means “Tree”. He indicated that for successful growing of Bonsai, one should be artistic and creative, should have Family Support and care like a baby. He added that selecting suitable stock, style, wiring, potting and pruning plays a key role in Bonsai growing and explained the details. He concluded saying that Bonsai growing is Stressbuster and a great exercise, a Lifetime Gift for a loved one and one can Live with Nature in a concrete Jungle. Later he replied all queries raised by the audience. Dr. M. Jagan Mohan Reddy, Director of EEI, concluding the webinar made an appeal to all attendees to apply the lessons learnt, in the field, wherever it is practical and to urge urbanites to engage in the various farming enterprises that were covered in the webinar. The webinar came to an end with vote of thanks proposed by Dr. R. Vasantha, Professor, EEI. Dr. M. Jagan Mohan Reddy, Director, EEI and Dr R. Vasantha, Professor, EEI, moderator of webinar interacting with participants.

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