Maybe one day we will not only buy our milk from Verka but our vegetables too — and they’ll be organically grown vegetables at that.
To convince farmers of the advantages of organic farming, Verka Milk plant authorities in Mohali have set up large net houses to demonstrate cultivation techniques for tomato, cucumber and capsicum. Visitors to these demonstration units will be able to see how use of pesticides and chemical fertilizer can be almost completely eliminated without sacrificing vegetable yields.
The demonstration project was proposed back in 2010 by one of Verk’s senior official who saw that the organization was ideally placed to carry the message of organic farming to milk producers who, typically, are also farmers. Organic farming would allow dairy farmers to make the most productive use of cow-dung which they have in ample supply. Their main investment would be on nets to prevent entry of insects. Verka’s organic farming model is envisaged as a small scale operation using family labour. Also, vegetable production suits farmers who have small holdings. There is a growing market for organically grown farm produce among health-conscious urbanites. Verka wants to see dairy farmers tap this market.
Jakseer stated that whenever farmers come to the Verka plants, and especially during the camps, officers make sure that they go around the demonstration units. At present, vegetable grown in Verka’s net houses are sold to employees.
If Verka succeeds in introducing organic vegetable production to the farmers of Punjab this could put much needed extra income in the farmers’ pockets. Let’s hope the scheme takes off.
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