48-year-old Urgain Phuntsog has made his name doing organic self-sustaining farming. He lives in Gya village, which is located around 70 km from Leh and at an altitude of nearly 14,000 feet above sea level.
Urgain has ownership of about 31 kanals of land. But since he also controls over his younger brothers’ land too, so he cultivates around 62 kanals of land. Urgain Phuntsog is also popularly known as ‘Mitti Ka Aadmi’ in his village because of his farming skills. At a height of 14,000 feet, where even humans find it difficult to survive, he is producing various vegetables, growing cereals like barley, raising livestock, cultivating mushrooms, rearing sheep and goats and producing vermicompost from his farm, animal and household waste.
Urgain lost his father when he was just 12 years old. At that time, he had no choice but to learn ploughing, sowing, grinding flour and making irrigation channels as a young boy. Initially, he struggled with these tasks but other villagers supported him. Later, he would grow mustard, potatoes, peas and barley, but their main source of income and sustenance, particularly during the winters, was livestock.
In terms of cereals, Urgain primarily grows barley and wheat. With 85 kg per kanal, he earns a yield of about 35.7 quintals over 42 kanals of land in a season (four months). His wheat sells for Rs 50 per kg. He sells it in various parts of Ladakh including Demchok and Kharnak in the Changthang area and Sheynam and Tukcha area in Leh.
Urgain grows most of his vegetables in his two greenhouses of 32×16 feet and 100×25 feet, especially during the winter season. He produces his own seed for almost every vegetable. As a result, the cost of producing vegetables for him is limited to labour costs involved in the preparation of beds, weeding, and transportation.
He says that after putting aside all the expenses, he earns around Rs 1,20,000 per season on all crops.
In terms of livestock, the Kashmiri goats and sheep are great sources of pashmina and wool. About 150 gm of Pashmina and 1.7 kg of fleece can be extracted from each sheep. His goats produce about 20 kg of pashmina. In every season, he earns about Rs 27,000 from the sale of pashmina and fleece from his sheep.
Other than that, he also earns a net income of Rs 80,700 over nine months from his milching cattle. For all his farming, Urgain relies on organic things and avoids chemicals.
Source: The Better India