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Farmer’s ‘Jugaad’ Innovations Extends Shelf-Life of Organic Onions by 3 Months

Haryana-based Sumer Singh has been farming since 1999 but his switch to organic farming to grow vegetables, pulses, chickpeas and millets has been life-changing.

Organic farming, even though more popular and income generating, is a risky process. But Sumer Singh, from Haryana’s Dhani Mahu village, decided to take this risk after realising the ill effects of using chemical fertilisers.

Sumer not only cultivates and earns from his 14 acre organic farm, but inspires fellow farmers to take up his methods too.

When he started farming in 1999, he used chemical fertilisers and his major cultivation was cotton. But soon, the health of his land and family deteriorated.

That was a wake up call for Sumer who, with proper guidance from other organic farmers, took up organic farming.

Today, he grows vegetables, pulses, chickpeas and millets. More cultivation is restricted due to water shortage and quality of soil.

Speaking of profits, he says, “I’ve been practising this model of cultivation for the past six years. Neither my family nor myself have felt the need to spend a single pie on hospital bills. I consider that as my greatest profit.”

“What is the use of earning more profit by using chemicals and spending the same in hospitals?” Sumer rhetorically asks.

Sumer Singh

His neighbours and family members completely depend upon his vegetables, he claims.

Sukh Darshan, who regularly buys onions from his farm, says, “We have been buying vegetables from Sumer ji for quite some time now. There are notable differences between organic onions and those bought from the market. Apart from adding flavour to the food, we are also able to preserve it for a long time.”

Sumer implements his own ideas in farming. For example, he grows onions on one acre of land, and instead of using plastic for the purpose of mulching, he uses stubble. This keeps the soil moist for a longer time. The method is effective for similar places with water scarcity.

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He harvests about 80 quintals of onion from one acre.

Usually onions are stored in sacks, which leads to its press down and spoilage due to heat. In order to avoid this wastage, Sumer hangs the onions in bundles. This way even if one or two are damaged, they can be easily removed which restricts the spoilage of the produce.

“You have to hang them just like shopkeepers hang bananas. This will keep them in the air and they will be safe for many months,” says Sumer. This method can keep onions safe for about three to four months.

He has also hung a few quintals of onions as an experiment to see if they can be preserved for a year and a half.

Similar innovations are followed for each crop to increase their shelf-life naturally. He says, “There is risk in all agriculture related work, be it organic or chemical. But this does not mean that farmers should hesitate to try new experiments and move forward. I appeal to all the farmers to cultivate crops through organic farming techniques.”

Contact Sumer Singh to know more about organic farming techniques on 9991634300.

Read this story in Hindi here.

(Edited by Yoshita Rao)

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