When Ashok Kumar, 63, started doing organic farming on three acres of his farm in Sohangarh Rattewala village in Punjab’s western Ferozepur district in 2012, the benefits of good health and a cleaner environment were foremost on his mind.
Besides growing food for his family, he was also able to sell the surplus to customers who sought organic produce. By 2016, he had decided to grow chemical-free fruit, vegetables, grains and oilseeds on his entire 16 acres, but the scaling up did not yield expected returns.
“I opened a shop in [nearby] Muktsar town in collaboration with six other organic farmers. We also took our produce to a weekend organic market in Jalandhar [three-and-a-half hours away by road], but despite putting in so much effort and money, we continued to make losses,” he recalled. There just were not enough customers, he told IndiaSpend.
“We had to shut down the shop and I eventually reduced the area under organic farming back to three acres, for my own family’s consumption. The rest of the land is now given on lease to another farmer, who uses chemical fertilisers and pesticides.”
Kumar’s story is not reflective of all farmers who are trying to do chemical-free farming in Punjab, but many…