SHIMLA: In a first, a Himachal Pradesh University has successfully undertaken the harvesting of peas planted under the zero budget natural farming, scientists said on Sunday.
The first picking of the peas was undertaken last week at the farms of Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni, Solan district, with encouraging results.
Based on the first harvest, the production was calculated to be around five quintals an acre.
The scientists are expecting up to three pickings from the crop.
Zero budget natural farming is a practice that believes in the natural growth of crops without fertiliser, pesticide and any other supplements.
The research team had planted two varieties of peas at the farm. The first variety was P-89, while the second was Azad-P1 planted 15 days later. Both the varieties have coriander as a border crop, which will also be ready for sale by the end of the coming week.
The seeds were treated with Bijamrit and irrigated, and Jivamrit was sprayed after every 15 days of germination.
The scientists are now evaluating the performance of the two varieties under this model.
"The results have been highly encouraging and we plan to increase the crop area under this model and also expand to crops like tomato and capsicum. The pods in each plant ranged between four to eight," university's Joint Director (Forestry) Rajeshwar Chandel told IANS.
He said no pest and disease incident were recorded in the field despite the fact that leaf minor, an insect pest, generally appears on the crop.
The harvested crop will be sold among locals and their feedback will be taken on the quality of the crop.
Apart from peas, the university has also planted cauliflower, onion and fenugreek under the zero budget natural farming model and these will be ready for harvest by the end of the month.
Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat is advocating the promotion of zero budget natural farming on the pattern of Sikkim.
Toeing his vision that aims to increase agriculture production and the income of farmers by adopting 'greener' ways, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur is also stressing the promotion of zero budget natural farming.
In his budget speech on March 9, Thakur said farmers and extension staff of Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Husbandry Departments will be trained for this farming. An awareness campaign will also be launched.
A total of 39,790 farmers, covering 21,473 hectares, have already adopted organic farming in Himachal Pradesh.
In his budget address, the Chief Minister proposed to provide an investment subsidy of 50 per cent for the establishment of bio-pesticides plants and promotion of 'desi' or indigenous cows.
Agriculture is the mainstay of people in the hill state, providing direct employment to 69 per cent population.
Interestingly, farmers in state's landlocked valleys like Pangi in Chamba district and Dodra Kwar in Shimla district have never used pesticides and fertilisers for growing crops.