Agriculture and Horticulture
Farming is the main occupation for most households in the region but with a changing national economy, shifting ecological landscape, lack of information and inadequate extension services, it has become increasingly difficult for farmers to rely on agriculture alone. The risks related to farming are rising and the migration to urban areas is growing at an alarming rate. To discourage farmers from turning away from farming, Chirag focuses on supporting sustainable agricultural techniques that are economically viable, and endeavours to improve market linkages for small scale farmers in the area.
Our agriculture program is centered on the experimental farms at Simayal in Nainital District and Dewaldhar in Bageshwar District. These experimental farms serve as a laboratory, where trials on appropriate techniques, seed varieties, and cultivation methods are conducted. Farmers are encouraged to visit the farm for on-site demonstrations and to source agriculture inputs at cost.
A farmer is more likely to adopt a technique or variety if he/she sees that it is being successfully used by a fellow farmer. Hence, as part of the new agriculture strategy, Chirag launched the Navachar program in 2009 to provide support to farmers who are willing to innovate and experiment with methods on their own farms. Four different steps are involved in the Navachar program. The first one concerns Seed Treatment, the second one Nursery Raising, the third one Composting and the last one Standing Crop Treatment. Of these, composting methodology has found wider acceptance as compared to the other three. The Navachar program is presently operational in Naukuchiatal, Kathpuriacheena, Devaldhar, Dhokane, Reetha, Pinron, and Kasiyalekh. In total, we have reached over 430 farmers in more and 80 different villages. Our successful results are motivating and our team is working relentlessly to expand our interventions.