Shimla, December 26 (IANS): Launched three years ago, Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana, a state government funded program that supports natural agriculture, has now roped 502 ‘Krishi Sakhis or female farm friends, for training to boost production. agricultural at lower cost by natural means. They will also spread the message to other members of the fair sex.
Until recently, farmers, largely small and marginal, did not fully reap the benefits of their productive land, even with rising costs. In question: the deterioration of the grounds due to the abuse of pesticides and fertilizers.
Agricultural experts told IANS that the potential of women to drive rural development is enormous, despite many challenges and obstacles.
The âKrishi Sakhisâ are now being trained to find ways to adapt to non-chemical, low-cost, climate-resilient agriculture.
“Since women are the main labor force in agriculture across the country, it is always effective if they are trained and the message is spread through them”, Suneel Chandel, consultant (training) at the State project implementation unit with Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana, told IANS.
Appointed by the Rural Development Department of the State and the Panchayati Raj as part of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), the âKrishi Sakhisâ have already been trained in agriculture-related activities.
They have also been linked to the âKrishi Udyog Sakhi Conceptâ, where women can form producer collectives with links to the market.
The additional practical training in natural agriculture provided by the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA), working under the supervision of Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana, now equips them with knowledge and prepares them for a change of mind, with sustainable agriculture, income, the environment and nutrition in focus.
In total, 1.53 lakh of farming families in the state have partially and fully adopted natural farming practices on 9,192 hectares, including a mix of agriculture and horticulture.
âNatural farming is a great concept. It will help us reduce costs and improve nutrition and every farmer wants it. Everyone is afraid to adopt a new thing when it comes to livelihood. We have to break this psyche and educate farmers to turn to non-chemical agriculture for the best results in all times to come, âsaid Chiter Rekha, 44, village chief of Tundal panchayat in the block of Kandaghat, in the district of Solan.
Rekha, a graduate, has been a âKrishi Sakhiâ for a year and is committed to disseminating natural agriculture among self-help groups and other women’s organizations at the village level.
She is more confident in the concept as she switched to the technique of natural farming on one bigha of land (out of a total of two bighas) after the training.
âAfter seeing my success story, many women started doing it, at least in the vegetable gardens. Now they have linked natural farming to ‘Krishi Sakhis’ and it will help them reach more women in the village. “, she added.
Officials associated with Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana say 23 training sessions have been held for “Krishi Sakhis” in natural agriculture in the 12 districts. Their farm exhibition tours are also underway.
Another farmer Kanta Devi, 58, from Kwara village in Mashobra block in Shimla, said, âI was nominated as Krishi Sakhi a few months ago. After receiving formal training in natural agriculture last month, I formed seven self-help groups in my area. “
âIt’s a good thing that as Krishi Sakhi we get a salary to give training as well as exposure,â she added.
Implemented in Himachal Pradesh in 2018, Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana focuses on empowering women farmers, who work hard in the fields in silence, through information and capacity building.
After the training, women farmers gain confidence in bringing the concept to their fields through discussion, or by testing on a small plot or even vegetable gardens to convince family members.