Kundan Singh Panwar, the horticulture expert from Paab village in Junpur block of district Tehri Garhwal is of the view that Village tourism and Horticulture practices are only two options that can help in curbing migration from the hills.
Kundan Singh Panwaar after retiring from government job in 1990’s instead of settling down at Dehradun as others preferred to return to his native village to set a horticulture garden bearing fruit trees at his village.
The inspiration behind this move was a Garhwali folk song written and sung by Ghanshyaam Sailaani that motivated people to plant fruit bearing trees and due to this song on his return to the village Panwaar started his fruit orchard by planting five trees of peach and five trees of Apple and then with the support of National horticulture Board he planted around two hundred more trees and gradually the orchard started taking new shape that has resulted in increasing the earning of the family to the tune of turnover of Rs 6 Lakh per annum.
Earlier I had planted Apple saplings but due to the climate change and global warming the Apple produce was minimal prompting him foregoing Apple plantation and focus on stone fruits like Peaches, Plums and Apricots etc and with market in form of tourists available at Kemty falls, the tourist destination 40 kilometers away cash began flowing for him gradually.
He later introduced the Kiwi (Chinese Gooseberry) plantation in his orchard fetching him more money.
Kundan Singh Panwaar says that horticulture and village tourism are only practices that can help in providing employment in village and curb migration from the villages. It will not only generate employment but also change the lifestyle Panwaar said that traditional agriculture is difficult in the slopes more than 30 degrees but youth by adopting horticulture can earn more along with village tourism. He further said that using organic farming methods the income can surge manifolds for the farmers and youth will be able to become entrepreneurs at their villages too.
At policy level he said that the focus should be on conserving water and rejuvenating the old natural water springs and tapping them for the orchards. He said that despite agriculture being focus of the government, the various schemes and policies being introduced are unable to reach the last man standing in the village. The need is to formulate community to government interfaces at various levels and provide the technical knowhow to villagers interested in horticulture said Panwar.He stressed on introducing lab to land programs so that the scientists are able to support the farmers with the new inventions and innovation techniques.
He also said that instead creating separate departments in the field of agriculture they should be merged under one umbrella so that farmer does not run from one department to another for help. The subsidy provided by the government would act as added incentive in the field of horticulture and village tourism thus leading to reverse migration. He urged the governments to help in introducing Chakbandi or land consolidation in the hilly villages so that people are able to adopt modern techniques to till their lands thus making it economically viable.Today the nursery set up by Kundan Singh Panwar is an inspiration for many and has become a model of success to an extent that people including administrative officers make it a point to visit it at some point of time in their careers.