Meghalaya CM launches Mission Organic

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma officially launched the Mission Organic in South West Garo Hills district during the day-long Conclave on Clean and Green Mission under IBDLP held at Betasing Block Friday based on the theme “Promising an organic revolution for transformation of Meghalaya.”

The conclave is a convergence programme of the Horticulture, Agriculture and C&RD departments in collaboration with FDS Mission Organic to create awareness among the farmers of the region on organic farming through deliberations and interaction.

Addressing the gathering on the occasion, the Chief Minister dwelt at length on the number of problems brought on by poor planning by certain departments, destruction of catchment areas, unscientific farming and excessive use of chemical fertilizers and said that it was to offset these problems that the government had started Clean and Green Mission, “so that we can relook at our approach to life.”

However, the effort will go in vain even if the government spends crores of rupees if there is no community engagement, he said and called for synchronized activities of all the line departments along with aggressive engagement of the community.

Referring to the high incidence of cancer caused by excessive use of non-organic chemical fertilizers and pesticides in Bathinda in Punjab, Sangma asked the Department of Horticulture to send a delegate of farmers so that they can see with their own yes and learn the detrimental effects of chemical fertilizers. He also said that the Mission Organic programme will be driven to every village in the district where land is available and announced that the first 100 villages in all the districts to become fully organic would be awarded with special schemes. “South West Garo Hills must strive to be the first district to declare itself as the first organic district,” he said.

The Mission will open up multi-faceted opportunities opportunities to the people, he added.

Informing the gathering that a project Rs 4500 crore have been approved for taking care of water scarcity in the State, to harvest water and create water bodies, he said that the original idea of IBDLP itself was to create water bodies in the State. He also asked the Horticulture department to prepare a programme for bamboo plantation, which can create sustainable livelihood and also lead to sustainable ecology.

The Chief Minister also interacted with the farmers who came up with their problems and cleared their doubts by patiently replying to the queries raised by them on certain issues like problem of water, use of seeds.

Minister for Sports & Youth Affairs, Zenith Sangma also spoke on the occasion and dwelt on the health and economic values of organic farming, while Deputy Commissioner Ram Singh presided over the function.

Retrieved from – http://zeenews.india.com/news/sci-tech/meghalaya-cm-launches-mission-organic_1527536.html

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NE leads in organic farming

Sikkim and Mizoram are leading the country in organic farming while Meghalaya is weaning out chemical fertilisers and pesticides and providing free bio-pesticides and bio-agents to farmers.

The two states – Sikkim and Mizoram – found special mention at the meeting of the parliamentary consultative committee of agriculture ministry, chaired by Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, in New Delhi where a threadbare discussion on organic farming took place.

Singh said the total organic production in the country was 1.24 million tonnes while the total area under organic farming was 0.723 million hectares under certification.

At present, organic farming is practised mainly in 12 states, of which two states of the Northeast – Sikkim and Mizoram – are likely to become fully organic in the next few years.

The Sikkim government had advocated the idea of making it an organic state in 2003. It was part of a larger concept of making the entire Northeast a wholly organic zone of India. Sikkim Organic Mission 2015 aims to convert 50,000 hectares of farmland by next year. In 2010-2011 and in 2011-2012, the target was 18,000 hectares each while in 2012-2013 it was 14,000 hectares.

The decision to go organic was based on the premise that farming in Sikkim was traditionally organic and it would benefit not only the 62,000 farming families of the state who own an average of 1.9 hectares of farmland, but also maintain the quality of environment of the state.

Mizoram’s agriculture department had introduced organic farming in 1996 and ran a trial at Lungmuat village. To promote organic farming vigorously, the Mizoram Assembly unanimously passed the Mizoram Organic Farming Bill in July 2004.

At today’s meeting, Singh assured the committee members that all necessary efforts would be made towards simplification of the certification process for organic farming, to encourage research on organic farming at Krishi Vigyan Kendras, agriculture universities and ICAR and proper utilisation of crop residue.

To mitigate the negative effects of chemicals and pesticides, the Meghalaya agriculture department has taken up alternative methods through the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Integrated Nutrient Management (INM). These are being popularised through an integrated plant health management system, which will produce food that are safer, nutritionally more acceptable and that adhere to the National Programme of Organic Production standards.

Under the IPM, the department promotes the use of bio-pesticides and bio-agents, which are safer for consumers and the eco-system. Under the INM, farmers are trained in the production of on-farm compost, vermi-compost and green manures and the use of bio-fertilisers to improve soil health.

Moreover, the government has substituted the subsidy sale of chemical fertilisers and pesticides by providing free distribution of bio-pesticides and bio-agents through various demonstration programmes to create awareness and acceptability among farmers.

To capitalise on the inherent advantages that organic farming brings, the state government has taken up a policy to introduce a safe system of organic production, certification and marketing.

Earlier this week, a two-day conclave under the Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Programme on the theme, Promising an Organic Revolution for the Transformation of Meghalaya, was held at Ampati in South West Garo Hills.

It was organised by the Basin Development Unit, Ampati, in collaboration with Clover Organic Pvt Ltd, a Dehradun-based NGO, and C&C Mission Organic, a Tura-based NGO. It was aimed at creating awareness and training agro and other allied-based farmers of the region on organic farming. There were 180 participants, including farmers from 15 villages and several NGOs.

Chief minister Mukul Sangma, who attended the conclave, said after such trainings are completed, the farmers’ plot of lands, where synthetic fertilisers and pesticides have not been used, will be assessed, accredited and certified as organic farms after three years. He urged upon the people to compete to make the district the first one to be officially declared 100 per cent organic.

Retrieved from – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1141218/jsp/frontpage/story_4036.jsp#.VJednsAA

A burgeoning organic market beckons to India’s rural farmers

Indian farmers have started to reap dividends from their budding interest in organic farming. It wasn’t long back, around seven years ago, when Indian farmers started to go organic.

In 2006-07, around 4.32 lakh ha reported organic produce — a large portion came from wild and non-agricultural land — which has now reached around 11 lakh ha, as per the recent report ‘The World of Organic Agriculture, 2013’ by FiBL and IFOAM (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements).

“The growth rate has reached around 20% per year, much higher than early expectations,” says Krishan Chandra, director, National Centre of Organic Farming. The government is promoting organic farming in a big way as a result of which India exported agri-organic products of total volume of 160276.95 MT and realization was around Rs.1155.81 crore in year 2012-13.

The current market for organic foods in India is pegged at Rs.2,500 crore, which according to ASSOCHAM, is expected to reach Rs.6,000 crore by 2015.

It’ll still leave us at 1% of the global market. Thus, a huge potential is seen in the nascent Indian organic sector.

“Apart from states like Sikkim or MP, we’re seeing a rising interest in Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, UP and Bihar”, says Chandra.

India outnumbers every other country in terms of organic producers — with an estimated 5,47,591.

Organic products, which until now were mainly being exported, are now finding consumers in the domestic market.

“Even Tier II cities like Nagpur, Allahabad, Gorakhpur and Bhatinda show an increase in organic consumption,” says Sunil Kumar, AGM at Morarka Rural Research Foundation.

According to a survey of 1,000 consumers in ten cities done by Morarka Organic Foods, around 30% of Indian consumers preferred organic products and were even prepared to pay 10 to 20% more for them.

“Soil abused by chemical fertiliser excesses takes more time to produce comparable yields. Although, the cost of organic cultivation is much less, reducing cost incurred in purchasing costly inputs,” says Rohitashwa Ghakar, Project Head, International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture.

* Regions reap their rewards

North East India
Growth: 30.92 lakh ha out of the net cultivated area of 43 lakh ha in the region have never seen the use of chemical fertilisers.

Almost 89% of farmland is categorised as organic in Mizoram, which passed an Organic Act in 2004. Whereas Meghalaya, a major strawberry producer, eyes a turnout of 500 MT from the current 250 MT a year.

Popular organic crops: Much of the area in the region is taken up by paddy, vegetables and fruits such as grapes.

The more prosperous farmers are into cultivation of medicinal plants, rose and anthurium, primarily for export.

“Mizoram has become the largest anthurium flower producer in India, owing to almost 98% of women anthurium growers,” said Samuel Rosanglura of Mizoram’s horticulture department.

Challenges: Most state governments promote vermi-compost and manure in the region since bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides are difficult to access. (By Rahul Karmakar)

North India
Growth: In UP, organic certification has gone up 36 fold in the last six years. The area under organic cultivation rose from 3,034 to 111,644 ha.

However, most of the organic farming  is under a corporate-farmer contract. In Haryana, with hardly any takers till 2008, organic crops today are produced in more than 10,000 ha.

However, Punajb farmers have shown little interest. Of the total 4046 lakh ha of land under cultivation, only a minuscule portion 2104 ha is under organic farming.

Popular organic crops: Nearly 40,000 farmers in UP are growing organic wheat, rice, pulses, maize, and numerous herbs like Tulsi, Ashwagandh, Aloe Vera.

Haryana grows mostly vegetables like tomato, beans, or fruits like summer-squash, melons and mangoes.

“Although I sell the produce in Delhi, most of it goes to retail chains”, says Kanwal Chauhan, a farmer in Sonepat.

Challenges: Punjab State Farmers’ Commission consultant Dr PS Rangi feels that organic farming cannot feed the entire country. “One can grow vegetables or some wheat for personal use, but it can’t be grown on a large scale.” (By Pankaj Jaiswal, Rajesh Moudgil and Gurpreet Nibber)

South India
Growth: In Kerala, at least 40 % of the farming is organic and the state is set to become the second fully organic state after Sikkim in 2016.

From 7,000 ha in 2007, the state has spread organic cultivation to 16,000 ha. In Andhra Pradesh another 11,500 ha would be added to the current 4273.54 ha this year.

In Karnataka, under the organic programmes of the state, an area of 1,18,676 ha has seen organic farming benefiting around one lakh farmers, said R Anuradha, agriculture department.

Popular organic crops: More than grains and pulses in Kerala organic farming is prevalent in cash crops, rice and vegetables.

In Andhra’s smaller towns and villages, people are slowly shifting to organically grown rice, ragi and other millets.

In Karnataka, crops like pepper, vanilla, coffee, nutmeg — which are not available in other parts of India — are a popular choice.

Challenges: In large tracts of the state’s tribal belt like Karnataka and AP, the farmers have engaged in slash/burn farming for generations and do not use any pesticide or fertilizer.

There have been no efforts to take this into account. (By Ramesh Babu, Ashok Das and Naveen Ammembala)

West India

Growth: Gujarat has seen substantial growth in organic farming. It currently utilises around 42,000 ha under organic farming.

Maharashtra has been a front runner in organic farming with around 6.5 lakh ha under it, a huge rise from 18,786 ha in 2005-06.

In Rajasthan, there has been a ten-fold increase. From around 22,000 ha in 2005-06, the state has taken a leap to 2,17,712 ha.

Popular organic crops: Gujarat grows organic wheat, pulses and fruits like mango, chikoo and papaya. While cotton, turmeric, ginger are some crops grown in Rajasthan.

In Maharashtra, cotton, cereals, fruits dominate the organic farming scene. The state has initiated  a pilot project to grow grapes that will produce organic wine.

Challenges: “Tribals who hardly use chemical fertilisers are left out of organic benefits,” says Kapil Shah of Jatan Trust that promotes organic farming. (By Mahesh Langa)

Retrieved from – http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/newdelhi/a-burgeoning-organic-market-beckons-to-india-s-rural-farmers/article1-1051468.aspx

Tea major forays into spice trade

Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited is planning to introduce a brand of spices sourced from the Northeast, including pepper from its plantations, in the national market.
Pepper being grown in a nursery inside an APPL garden.

Guwahati, July 14: Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited, the second largest tea producer in the country, is all set to launch its brand of spices.

The tea major, which has been growing other crops on its estates, is aiming big vis-à-vis spices and wants to become a national player within five years.

“The idea is to have fair price aggregation and develop market linkages with the organised sector. APPL’s vision is to become the preferred provider of agri business supply solutions in the Northeast to ultimately benefit the farmer,” Prabir Banerjea, the chief operating officer of APPL’s agri business division, told The Telegraph.

The company is growing only black pepper — the most traded spice in the world — in its gardens. Black pepper, known as the king of spices, is known for its hot, biting flavour and pungent aroma. The latest price for black pepper in India ranges from Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 per quintal. The company sources other spices from different states of the region.

“The brand names are being shortlisted and our brands could hit the market by August,” Banerjea said.

The company started growing black pepper commercially from 2007 and the yield this year was 24 metric tonnes — 20 per cent higher than last year. As on date, the company has 200 hectares under black pepper cultivation.

He said the company planned to announce the origin of the produce and their USPs across marketing channels in the organised sector, as “at present, spices from the Northeast are being sold in mandis and nobody knows where these are coming from”.

Independent nurseries have been set up in all gardens to ensure self-sufficiency in planting material and high-yielding and drought-resistant varieties have been sourced from south India.

Banerjea said single polished turmeric fingers with specified curcumin content were recently sent to Olam International — a leading global integrated supply chain manager and processor of agricultural products and food ingredients — for export. “This is for the first time spices have been exported from the Northeast,” he said. The turmeric was mainly sourced from Assam’s Karbi Anglong district.

The company is also setting up a state of the art processing and packaging plant for spices and fruits aggregated from the Northeast at the North East Mega Food Park in Tihu. Construction will commence after the monsoon this year and trial production will start from the winter of 2014.

The official said the company’s entry into the spices sector in the Northeast would create national links for local produce, benefiting the farming community of the region.

Spices are high value export-oriented commodities, which play an important role in the country’s agricultural economy, as India is the principal source of spices in the global market. In the Northeast, black pepper is mainly grown in Meghalaya, which produces about 400 metric tonnes of the spice annually.

According to Spices Board, the Northeast has tremendous potential for largescale production of spices and it is anticipated that the region can create exportable surpluses at competitive prices, ensuring that the country stays on top in the international spices market.

In fact, the spices sector has been making strides in the Northeast and Spices Board has proposed an outlay of Rs 66.75 crore in the Twelfth Plan to promote the sector in the region. The Twelfth Plan focus is on development of large cardamom and other spices with respect to area expansion, irrigation and land development, mechanization, organic farming and post-harvest processing.

Retrieved from – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1130715/jsp/northeast/story_17115030.jsp#.UeN3b9Iqdsl

Government to set up spices parks in Meghalaya, Assam

SHILLONG: The Centre is keen on setting up a spices parks in Meghalaya and Assam to promote value addition and help farmers by reducing their dependence on middlemen, an official said today.

A feasibility study for the park in Meghalaya is under the process of preparation by the IIM-Shillong for which the report is awaiting, Deputy Director (Regional office) Spices Board, Government of India, B J Brahma, said at the sideline of a workshop on Organic spices and value addition in Shillong.

The Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry will provide funding for the proposed Spices’ Park, he said.

According to the Spice Board official, the park, ideally to be within the reach of the spice-farming community, should have common infrastructure and should not be less than 10 acres.

The Spices park will act as a common centre where farmers bring in their produces in bulks. Grading, quality control, value addition and packaging will be done before it is handed over to exporters, the Spice Board official said.

In 2009-10, Meghalaya produces 50,286 MT of ginger and 10,046 MT of ginger besides 1423 MT and 462 MT of chillies and black pepper. Assam on the other hand, produces Bhut Jhalokia and mustard besides ginger and turmeric and is considered the gate to the North East, Brahma said.

The region has also exported 37,38,597 MT tonne of spices, mainly fresh ginger and fresh turmeric, to neighbouring countries Bangladesh and Myanmar in the recent past, could further its export after the value addition is done and the quality is improved, Brahma said.

Once value addition is done and quality is improved at these common infrastructure for the farmers, the spices could command a higher price value at the International markets, Brahma said.

The Lakadong turmeric produced in Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills district could command a high market prices after value addition at the park, he said.

Retrieved from – http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-05-16/news/31726901_1_value-addition-spices-park-spices-parks