Suman Gazmer writes: Twenty eight years old Prakash Dhamala has successfully taken the baton of farming from his parents atSauney, Singtam under West Pandem constituency and today is one of the progressive farmers in Sikkim. In his earlier days, Dhamala used to assist his family members to cultivate ladyfinger, beans and ginger on a small scale at their 1.5 acres farmland. Adding a new chapter to his assistance, he took over the farming responsibility in 2002 and first attempted to cultivate cucumber, snake gourd and bitter gourd. In 2010 alone, he harvested 130 quintals of cucumber, 35 quintals of snake gourd, 27 quintals of bitter gourd, 19 quintals of ridgegourd, 16 quintals of ladyfinger and 5 quintals of beans fetching him Rs. 1.5 lakhs as profit.
Since he started farming in 2002, Dhamala has relied on organic farming techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests. Organic farming excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured fertilizers, pesticides (which include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides), plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, and genetically modified organisms.
He came to the notice of the State Horticulture Department when the then State Agriculture & Horticulture Minister, Somnath Poudyal visited his farm and was much impressed with his work. From 2007,Dhamala started acquiring seeds of cucumber, bitter gourd, beans and ladyfingers along with other requirements like organic manure and pesticides from the Department.
The vision of State Government to make Sikkim an Organic State has helped his land acquire greater fertility. Earlier, not familiar with the organic farming methods resulted in the problems of pests and insects in the corps, but after embracing organic farming method, Dhamala says that production of his farm has enhanced.
Dhamala is putting all his efforts to help the Government for achieving the goal of making Sikkim as anOrganic State by 2015. If it could happen then it would be an encouragement for the farmers and the production will automatically increase, he believes. He also opined that there should be security for the crops.
Besides horticulture, livestock management and dairy farming helps him on two fronts-providing him steady supply of homemade organic manure and additional income. He has 10 cows of holiesten variety out of which five are milching that produce daily 50 litres of milk. He has also added a number of goats of Australian species to his livestock.
While the young farmer is doing well in horticulture, he is also facing the problem of marketing. But he remains satisfied with his annual profit of more than Rs.One lakh after meeting all the expenses. He has committed himself to farming and sharing about his knowledge and experience about organic farming with others.