In his native Safnagri village, some 22 kms from south Kashmir's Shopian town, Mudasir Ahmad Dar (33) is readying his farm for the cultivation of pea crop. In the next few days, he is going to sow the seeds in large tracts of his land. The crop, according to Dar, will be ready to harvest around springtime.
Dar, a well-heeled farmer grows at least three crops in a year -- two in Kharif and one in Rabi season.
In the last week of April, he harvests the season's first crop--mostly peas. And then he grows radish in June, which matures within 40 to 45 days. In the month of August, Dar grows another important health vegetable--spinach.
"You can reap rich dividends by taking to farming. I earn Rs 12 to Rs 13 lakh annually", says Dar.
Dar grows all the three crops by using bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides.
"You won't usually find farmers here using chemical fertilizers in this village", Dar adds.
The village, comprising 335 households, has been certified as an organic vegetable village in 2017-2018 and at least 42 local farmers are registered as organic farmers.
These farmers do organic farming--they steer clear of using chemical fertilizers, pesticides or hormones.
" The farmers rely on bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides", said Farooq Ahmad Reshi, Chief Agriculture Officer Shopian.
Reshi said that 20 hectares of land from the area were brought under organic vegetable cultivation.
While the farmers from the rest of the district mostly grow apples, the village is known for cultivating over a dozen vegetable varieties.
Farooq Ahmad (45), another farmer from the village said that the village supplies truck loads of garlic, carrots, reddish, tomatoes and peas to neighbouring districts and mandis for sale.
"We make a good living out of vegetable cultivation", said Ahmad.
Besides growing vegetables, the farmers also cultivate different types of seedlings and sell them in the local market.
"We usually grow the seedlings of onion, chilli, tomato and brinjal", said Ahmad, who every year set up a makeshift shop in Shopian town to sell the seedlings.
Ahmad said that during this season he brought home daily Rs 5000 to 10000 by selling the seedlings.
Many farmers from the village said that one kanal of farm land would yield the seedlings worth Rs one lakh.
Dr Javed Ahmad, In-charge of the organic village told Greater Kashmir that the farmers were reaping rich dividends by cultivating organic vegetables, using modern technology.
"In this village, you will find farmers scripting success stories merely by growing vegetables", he said.
Ahmad said that the agriculture department provided the farmers seeds, set up polyhouses, and vermicompost units free of cost.
" The department always keeps a close eye on the farms and provides timely guidance to the farmers in case of any eventuality ", he said.
Ahmad added that the department was always making efforts to nip any disease attacking the farms in the bud.