Article 1 http://www.tribunei ndia.com/ 2010/20100530/ main6.htm Tackling farm pests with ‘havan’ Dharamsala, May 29 Scientists at Palampur Agriculture University are using vedic mantras, “havan” and ringing of bells to promote organic farming. While occasional visitors are caught by surprise at the chants, the seemingly religious activity is an experimental project taken up by the department of organic farming in Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Krishi Vishvavidyalaya. The university has allocated special funds for the research project, designed to chase away pests and pathogens from the fields. The scientists hope to establish that the smoke that emerges from the “havan” in which cow dung cakes are smoked slowly in desi ghee can help drive away pests. The entire department, ranging from farm labourers to research scholars, have been participating in the research activity. The department when contacted by The Tribune revealed that the research project had been christened Homa Farming.[ Dr YS Paul, a scientist supervising the activity, explained that “homa” was the original word for “havan” in Sanskrit. “As part of the experiment, which began in 2006, we conduct a havan every morning at sunrise and sunset in fields where pests or pathogens are attacking crops. The havan is accompanied by ringing of bells and is conducted at specific points earmarked by scientists after certain “calculations” ,” Dr Paul said. Besides the havan, the “Mahamritunjaya” (mantra used to conquer all types of ills as per the Hindu mythology) is recited twice daily. On Fridays, it is mandatory for all workers and staff of the department to participate in the activity, Dr Paul said. The scientist claimed that Homa Farming was being practised in 19 countries after it was successfully demonstrated by a Swami on banana farms in Peru. When asked about the scientific results achieved so far, he said till now the results had not been quantified. “However, our observations have shown interesting results,” he added “I carried pathogens to the departmental laboratory and subjected them to the Homa Farming conditions. The growth of pathogens was found retarded by about 30 per cent. Also, the production of crops is better in the farms where Homa Farming is carried out than the other farms of the university where such farming is not practised, he claimed. ]Dr Paul hoped that the practice would help people keep away from harmful chemical pesticides they were using on crops. Other scientists this correspondent spoke to also claimed that the vibrations created by mantras had the potential to chase away crop diseases.