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Travel tales

Organic Farming in Kumaon Hills

Growing concerns about never heard before health hazards, diseases and abnormalities because of consumption of chemically produced farm products, is now creating an atmosphere and awakening for use of the conventional farming methods, i.e. the concept of Organic farming.

INTRODUCTION

All these concerns forced one IT professional from the Kumaon hills to come back to his grassroots and what he does today is really commendable. Mr. Rajiv (not the real name) has been phenomenal in establishing a pilot project in a small village Sitlakhet.

He has developed a routine of using agriculture practice that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost, and biological pest control.  The utilisation of all the major techniques like Mulching, poly-cropping, rotation of soil, etc. are practiced by him and he is yielding significant results.

He says that this is the only answer to the ever-growing usage of modern era chemicals and eating chemical enriched nutrients in form of fruits n veggies. His views on other aspects of global warming and the environment were also quite interesting and worth giving a thought.

What he does best is the Rosewater distillations and also Rose oil production. Also extracted are oil from other flowers like Geranium and Rose Mary (both camphor based flowers).

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Already into his 6th year of production, he shared some interesting facts about the yield and his efforts. The variety of roses used for his distillations are primarily the ROSA- Damascena (damask) or locally named Noorjahan. The Damask rose is a deciduous shrub, and the roses are a light to moderate pink to light red.

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It takes about 1 kg of fresh rose petals to produce 1.5 liters of a reasonable quality of rose water, and 2 liters of commercial quality of Rosewater. It usually takes about 6-8 hours to process a batch of 8-9 kgs of rose petals at his plant.

Also about 5kg rose petals give 1.2 ml of Rose oil through double distillation. The oil is of the highest quality and one has to personally experience the sweet n soothing fragrance.

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Besides the oil extraction unit, he is engaged in growing all kinds of pulses, coriander, turmeric, potatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, rajma, rosemary and geranium flowers, fruits like peach, pears, apricot, plums,  apple, etc., local herbs, poultry, fish farming, cattle breeding, etc.

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He is planning to expose his entire setup to the outside world now, but again on a pilot basis only. He invited me to come over again and stay at his farm and spend time to go through his entire process of distillations and also various other farming practices.

Of course, he plans to charge a nominal fee for this, but I guess no amount of fees will be enough to experience such an extravagant effort and success in efforts to promote Organic farming and trying to save the ecological setup. And of course, the oil production part is the prime attraction – so if anybody is interested – please contact me for further inputs.

http://www.millenniumpost.in/sundaypost/routes/shitalakhet-the-soul-of-kumaon-359331

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