In 2017, Irshad Ahmad Dar happened to attend one of the workshops organised by KrishiVigyan Kendra (KVK) in Malangpora village of South Kashmir's Pulwama district. During the day-long workshop, the participants were acquainted with a host of modern farming techniques. It was during this workshop where Dar for the first time heard about integrated farming, farming systems where crops, livestock, poultry, fish are raised in an integrated manner.
Dar, a resident of Patalbagh village, some 14 kms from Pulwama town, belongs to a well-heeled family of agriculturists, toyed with the idea of starting this kind of farming for quite some time.
Finally in March 2017, he gave his ideas a concrete shape, and today nearly four years down the line Dar earns over Rs 3 lakh per month besides giving employment to many.
Dar, who has graduated in arts, taught in a private institution for a few years before he shifted his focus to integrated farming.
"We were usually growing paddy but after that workshop I started growing other crops as well", says Dar.
In the same year, Dar started the cultivation of saffron and set up a dairy and poultry farm.
"Every day I sell around 60 to 70 liters of milk", Dar says.
Dar also grows different types of vegetables in his farm sprawling over 80 kanals of land.
"I cultivate both traditional and exotic veggies including broccoli, cherry tomatoes and yellow capsicum", Dar said.
He said that he reaps quite rich dividends by selling the exotic varieties.
“During 2020-2021, I sold nearly 200 kgs of broccoli and yellow capsicum ", Dar said.
According to Dar, he gives employment to 10 to 15 people during the peak season and his monthly earnings varies between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh
Dar has opted for natural farming and steers clear of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
"The rampant use of fertilizers and pesticides have not only degraded the quality of our soil but have also affected the health of consumers", Dar said.
During the pandemic, Dar also supplied fresh vegetables to a nearby quarantine centre for a few weeks.
"Our land is very fertile and if we take farming a bit seriously and use modern methods I think we don't need to import vegetables and rice from other states", said Dar.
Dar's contribution did not hide from the government and he was recently awarded “Champion Farmer Award” by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.