Pulwama: Inside a facility in Muran village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, Muneer Ahmad Sheikh along with his brother and a small group of workers are engaged in making bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides.
Sheikh, a post graduate in Biotechnology, tried to set up a small bio- fertilizer unit and a laboratory in 2017 in an attempt to popularize the use of organic fertilizers and pesticides among the farmers. Sheikh was joined by his elder brother and the duo soon pulled it off. Barely in three years they were able to produce an abundant quantity of bio-fertilizers and pesticides besides providing employment to as many as ten people.
“Last year, we sold more than 1000 quintals of vermicompost, 1000 liters of bio- fertilizers and 1000 liters of bio- pesticides,” said Sheikh.
According to Sheikh, initially only a smaller number of farmers were acquainted with the use of organic fertilizers and plant protection products but gradually the demand for such products increased.
“As agriculturists became aware about the harmful effects of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, they began taking to organic products,” said Sheikh.
Although Sheikh does not sell his products in the open markets, the farmers visit his unit and purchase the products directly.
Sheikh’s brother Bilal Ahmad said that initially they made only bio- fertilizers and conducted the soil testing but later they also prepared the bio- pesticides.
“There was a pressing need for a soil testing lab as it is important for a farmer to ascertain the health of soil for good harvest, and for this reason we established the lab on the priority basis,” Ahmad said.
He said that many farmers were not aware about the soil-testing which usually resulted in low yield.
Ahmad said that they also prepared bio-fungicides like Trichoderma, which was an effective fungicide.
“It has proven effective in controlling the root-rot both in conventional and high density varieties of apples” he said.
Ahmad said that he received help and assistance from Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) and Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) in preparing the fungicide.
“I also did a six months training programme in organic fertilizers organized by the KVK in Malangapora village of the district,” Ahmad said.
Besides the organic fertilizers and pesticides, the duo has also raised the Kiwi seedlings. They said that presently they had a copious stock of such seedlings.
“It does not need much space to raise these seedlings. People can even cultivate them on their terrace”, Sheikh said, adding that a Kiwi plant sells for Rs 300.
According to Sheikh, they reap rich dividends out of their business and he never felt the need to seek a government job.
“Before we started this venture, my brother worked as a teacher at a local private school for around eight years against a paltry salary. But today he earns sufficient enough to live a comfortable life, “he said, adding that there is much scope for unemployed youth in the agriculture sector.