Shimla: While the entire world is affected by the corona pandemic, the farmers of the state have taken it as an opportunity as they have involved themselves in their fields and orchards in this period. The officials of the agriculture department have also stepped forward in linking the farmers to digital technology and ensuring that mobile revolution reaches the fields.

Farming tips being provided on WhatsApp

In this time of crisis, social media WhatsApp is being used by the officials of the Department of Agriculture to maintain the economy of the farmers, to solve the problems and to advise them on farming.  For this, WhatsApp groups have been formed at the block, district and state levels. Agriculture officials are reaching out to the fields through video calling to solve farmer’s problems and are giving them tips on natural farming.

94 agricultural groups activated in the state

About 94 WhatsApp groups have been formed across the state at various levels by the officials of the Department of Agriculture. As many as 5676 farmers have been linked to these groups so far. Through these groups, agricultural officials are giving out information about natural farming to the farmers. 80 WhatsApp groups have been formed at the block level, 12 groups at the district level and 2 WhatsApp groups at the state level. About 4 thousand have been added to the agricultural groups formed in all the 80 blocks of the state. About 500 farmers have been linked to the 12 groups formed at the district level, while about 1176 farmers and officials have been linked to two WhatsApp groups created at the state level. Apart from this, three officers have also been posted in each block and Project Director, Subject Matter Specialist and DPD at district level, who are in constant contact with farmers through phone during the lockdown.

Models set in 2921 panchayats

So far 54 thousand farmers have joined the Subhash Palekar natural farming method under the Prakritik Kheti Khushal Kisan Yojana, started two years ago by the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur government. More than 70 thousand farmers have been trained for natural farming. So far, natural farming is being done on 2151 hectares of land in the state. With the objective of connecting the entire state with natural farming by the year 2022, models have been established in 2921 panchayats of the state under Subhash Palekar natural farming method. About 312 resource stores have also been prepared to enable farmers to get ready inputs at cheap prices.

Executive Director of Prakritik Kheti Khushal Kisan Yojana Prof. Rajeshwar Singh Chandel said that every possible solution to the problems being faced by the farmers during the lockdown was being provided. Farmers are being advised from time to time regarding crop protection against various diseases through WhatsApp groups formed across the state for assistance of farmers.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.