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2 More Villages of Kollegal to Go Organic (TibetNet)

TibetNet 14 August 2006

Dharamshala: In what is only the second leg of a long-term project, two more villages of the model agriculture settlement at Kollegal are now geared up for organic farming, after the process of organic conversion was successfully carried out in over 100 acres of the pilot village C, in addition to some 126 acres of scattered farmlands.

The introduction of organic farming as "projects aimed at providing non-violent, eco-friendly, and high-yield-low-labour means of livelihood", has been one of the defining initiatives of this Kashag.

The thrust of its approach is to make the farmers self-reliant, by imparting them how to make their own composted manure, set up a local seed bank, along with a whole lot of others, through the expertise of a well-trained agricultural extension officer, deputed by the home department in all the 22 agricultural settlements, some like Kollegal have two officers.

As they use their own manure and seeds, organic farmers need not expend their hard earned capital on hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, weedicides and all the various others, according to Tsering Dorjee, of the agriculture section of the department.

"People today are more and more enthusiastic and receptive on organic farming," he adds. "Besides, since the project began implementation some two years ago, we have had no complaints from the farmers, whether of losses or any serious decrease in the harvest."

After securing the certification of its produce as authentic (organic), from a reputed institution, which is likely to take some time, the department will then work on a sound marketing strategy. Meanwhile, the produce of the organic farming will be sold within the exile community.

In addition to the introduction of mixed cropping, instead of the usual mono-cropping of maize, the pioneering project also underlined measures for soil and water conservation, like enhancing the capacity of the soil to retain (rain) water, etc.

"Although, the department needs some more years to be able to assess the outcome of the organic farming, if what we have achieved thus far is any indication, we are very upbeat about the future prospects," Mr. Dorjee concluded.

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