A “Prachar Rath”, flagged off by Agriculture Minister Lal Chand Kataria on Wednesday, will promote organic and zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) among the farmers in Rajasthan to reduce agricultural input costs, encourage the use of bio-fertilisers, replace pesticides with traditional material and give tips for preparation of indigenous seeds.Flagging off the chariot at a public hearing event here, Mr. Kataria said the progressive farmers would be associated in large numbers with the drive which would continue till November 9. “Groups of farmers will visit the villages to generate awareness about the methods to increase agricultural production with innovative methods,” he said.Noted agriculturist Subhash Palekar, who has pushed for adoption of ZBNF, will train the farmers at a six-day-long camp beginning on September 24 at Sewar in Bharatpur district. This will be the first-ever training camp devoted to natural farming organised in the State.Mr. Kataria said the excessive use of chemicals was damaging the land’s fertility and adversely affecting people’s health. “The Prachar Rath’s dialogue with the farmers will apprise them of the benefits of using organic manure, vermicompost, crop residues and organic waste, while the weed, disease and pest control can be achieved through bio-materials and crop rotation.”The Union government’s Economic Survey of 2018-19 had advocated ZBNF as a “lucrative livelihood option” for small farmers. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had mentioned the method in her Budget speech as one of the innovative models through which the farmers’ income could be doubled by 2022.About 2,000 farmers have got themselves registered for the Sewar camp, where the research on forest vegetation as well as the techniques for natural growth of trees, based on Mr. Palekar’s “zero budget approach” to chemical-free farming involving manures and agro-ecology, will be highlighted.Sita Ram Gupta, executive director of Bharatpur-based Lupin Foundation, which is organising the camp, said that the exhibitions on beekeeping, manufacturing of ‘tulsi mala’ and fashion designing would be held during the event. Students of agricultural and veterinary colleges and researchers are also expected to participate in the camp.
When the cover was removed a few minutes before 8 am on Thursday, the pitch looked bone dry, even as dark clouds continued to hover over the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, the venue of the second and final Test between India and New Zealand, starting on Friday.The forecast of showers and thunder showers remains, but it should concern more the Kiwis rather than the Indians, who are 1-0 ahead in the series. Rain also affected the first Test in Hyderabad, but it failed to prevent India from winning by an innings.The stark difference in quality between the two teams was visible in Hyderabad where India took just four days to wrap up the big win. Spin was the dominant force in the first Test as off-spinner R Ashwin (12) and left-armer Pragyan Ojha (six) bagged 18 of the 20 New Zealand wickets.Despite being in a strong position, captain MS Dhoni ruled out experimentation just because India are in an advantageous position. “No, we are not experimenting; whatever is the best combination for this Test, we’ll feature it,” he said.New Zealand are, on the other hand, relying more on pace and are badly missing their wily left-armer Daniel Vettori, who was ruled out the Test series with a shoulder injury. Vettori is here with the team but he can only guide from outside.Their second most-experienced spinner is Jeetan Patel, who has bagged 44 wickets in 14 Tests.New Zealand have also brought Tarun Sai Nethula, a leg-spinner who was born in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, but it remains to be seen if he makes his Test debut in Bangalore.advertisementHere, it may be slightly different for Nethula as the final face of the pitch is yet to be known. Dhoni said that the pitch and the Bangalore weather may slightly assist the New Zealand pacers.