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.

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Narendra Modi stresses on ‘Organic Farming’ citing global market

Speaking for the first time on the Lok Sabha floor, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday, stressed on transforming whole of North-East India into an ‘Organic State’, which would be helpful in meeting the needs of organic products in the global market.

Modi gave an instance of a small state Sikkim, which will soon become an organic state. PM said that if Sikkim can do it, why the complete North-East can’t be developed as an organic state.

“Sikkim is a small state, sparsely populated, but is set to become the country’s first wholly organic state, which is a matter of pride,” Modi told the Lok Sabha while replying to the debate on the motion of thanks on the president’s address.

“There exists a massive demand for organic agricultural produce in the world today. A large section of the world’s population today is interested in holistic healthcare, and is willing to pay any amount of money for such organic products,” he said.

“If a small state like Sikkim can do it, why can’t we dream of developing the whole of north-east as an organic state? The government of India will help it in capturing the global market.”

While PM is batting for turning the North-East Indian into an ‘Organic State’, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his senior cabinet ministers are apparently against it. They are even hindering the work of companies, which are into the production of organic products in the state.

Growth of organic farming in India:

“In India, organic farming has grown manifold and number of initiatives at the Government and non-Government levels has given it a firm direction. By 2009, India has brought more than 9.2 million hectares of land under certification. Growing awareness and increasing market demand, besides other factors, has resulted in the phenomenal growth in total certified area during the last five years. As on March 2009, total area under organic certification process stood at 12.01 lakh ha and the overall market potential is estimated to be around Rs. 1,452 crore,” Registrar of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Mr. Rabindran said.

Here is the detail which shows the rapid growth of organic farming worldwide:

As of 2001, the estimated market value of certified organic products was estimated to be $20 billion. By 2002 this was $23 billion and by 2007 more than $46 billion. By 2012 the market had reached $63 billion worldwide.

Europe (2011: 10.6 million hectares, which is 5.4 percent of Europe’s farmland and an increase of 6% from the prior year; Europe has 29% of the world’s organic agricultural land) and North America (2011: 2.8 million hectares, 7.5% of the world’s organic agricultural land) have experienced strong growth in organic farmland.

In the EU it grew by 21% in the period 2005 to 2008. However, this growth has occurred under different conditions. While the European Union has shifted agricultural subsidies to organic farmers due to perceived environmental benefits, the United States has not, continuing to subsidize some but not all traditional commercial crops, such as corn and sugar. As a result of this policy difference, as of 2008 4.1% percent of European Union farmland was organically managed compared to the 0.6 percent in the U.S.

As of 2012 the country with the most organic land was Australia (12 million hectares), followed by Argentina (3.8 million hectares), and the United States (1.9 million hectares).

Retrieved from – http://www.pardaphash.com/news/narendra-modi-stresses-on-organic-farming-citing-global-market-up-govt-differs/759684.html

Sikkim gets prestigious ‘Agriculture Leadership Award 2013′

Minister for Food Security Agriculture and Horticulture Cash Crop Development Department Mr. D.N Thakarpa handed over the “Agriculture Leadership Award 2013” to the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling at his official residence Mintokgang .

Sikkim gets prestigious ‘Agriculture Leadership Award 2013′. The Agriculture Leadership Award 2013 was received by Mr. Arbind Kumar, Resident Commissioner Sikkim House, New Delhi cum Secretary Forest, Environment, Wild Life Management Department on behalf of the State Government of Sikkim during the Agriculture Leadership Award Summit at Hotel Taj, New Delhi.

The Chief Minister while receiving the award congratulated the Department and the farmers of State for bagging such honour to the state of Sikkim. At the same time the Chief Minister said that giving continuity and sustains the image of such an honour is a big challenge for the state.

In this regard he suggested the department to opt for capacity building, mass awareness and workshops with the participation of the public. Giving stress on State Organic Mission the Chief Minister also suggested the department to go for off seasonal agricultural products in the state and informed of the government plans to go for a mission mode on off seasonal agricultural products after completing the target of Organic Mission.

It may be informed that the Agriculture Leadership Award has been established in the year 2008 by Agriculture Today Group comprising of eminent agricultural scientists and agriculture professionals.

The award was presented by Shri Banwari Lal Joshi, Governor of Uttar Pradesh in the presence of Mr Tarik Anwar State Minister for Agriculture, Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, an internationally acclaimed Indian geneticist, Mr. Oscar Fernandes former Minister and host of other agriculture scientists.

Cultivable land continues to shrink

Cultivable land in India continues to shrink. It may not pose an immediate problem for the nation’s food security but its long-term effect could be disastrous with the country needing more and more foodgrains to support its growing population.

Latest data from the agriculture ministry shows that as many as 20 states reported decrease in cultivable land to the extent of 790,000 hectares in four years from 2007-08 to 2010-11.

The decrease is mainly attributed to diversion of cultivable land for non-agricultural purposes, including construction, industries and other development activities.

Since such diversion is inevitable, the government had in its National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy (NRRP), 2007 recommended several measures to keep a tab on ever-decreasing cultivable land in the country.

But the data, shared by the agriculture ministry in response to a question in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, shows that only five states have taken some steps to increase the areas under cultivation and three others ( Assam, Goa and Sikkim) have adhered to the policy of not tinkering with land which can be used for farming.

Gujarat is the only big state which increased the area of cultivable land during four years from 2007-08 to 2010-11. Manipur, Mizoram, Jammu & Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are the other states which reported increase during the period.

Haryana showed the sharpest decline in area under cultivation. The small state, which has seen diversion of huge tracts of cultivable land due to boom in real estate, reported decrease of 65,000 hectares of agricultural land between 2007-08 and 2010-11.

Since land falls under the purview of states as per the seventh Schedule of the Constitution, it is for states to bring in suitable policy to prevent diversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. The Centre had under its 2007 policy advised states to allow development projects to come up on wastelands.

Under NRRP, states were advised that acquisition of agricultural land for non-agricultural use should be kept to the minimum, multi-cropped land should be avoided to the extent possible for such purposes and acquisition of irrigated land, if unavoidable, may be kept to the minimum.

But it seems most states have not followed the norms, leading to overall decrease of nearly 406,000 hectares of cultivable land in the country during the four-year period.

Though the shrinkage did not have adverse impact on foodgrain production as the country reported increase from 230.8 million tonnes in 2007-08 to 255.4 million tonnes in 2012-13, the ever declining trend of cultivable land may pose a serious challenge in the long run.

Retrieved from – http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/cultivable-land-continues-to-shrink/articleshow/21856503.cms

India’s AEZs now cover 40 agricultural products

Agri export zones (AEZs) in the country now cover about 40 different agricultural commodities spread across 20 states in the country.

All the 60 AEZs have been notified by Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and have completed their span of five years, minister of state for commerce and industry D Purandeswari informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

The agri export zones are set up on the basis of particular produce / products that are grown largely in a contiguous area for the purpose of developing and sourcing the raw materials, their processing / packaging, leading to final exports.

Thus, the entire effort is centered on a cluster approach of identifying the potential products, the geographical region in which these are grown and adopting an end-to-end approach of integrating the entire process, right from the stage of production till it reaches the market.

The AEZs identified in North-east India are as follows –

Assam: Fresh & Processed Ginger at Kamrup, Nalbari, Barpeta, Darrang, Nagaon, Morigaon, Karbi Anglong and North Cachar districts.

Sikkim: flowers (orchids) and cherry pepper; ginger at Sikkim (north, east, south and west Sikkim).

Tripura: organic pineapple at Kumarghat, Manu, Melaghar, Matabari and Kakraban blocks

The AEZs are expected to converge the efforts made, hitherto, by various central and state government departments for increasing exports of agricultural commodities from India.

These agri zones take a comprehensive view of a particular produce / product located in a geographically contiguous area for the purpose of developing and sourcing raw materials, their processing/packaging, and leading to final exports.

The government had undertaken a peer evaluation of the existing AEZs in 2005 to assess their performance. On the basis of the recommendations of the peer group in 2005, it was decided not to consider notification of new AEZs unless there were strong compelling reasons to do so.

See more details at: http://www.domain-b.com/economy/agriculture/20130805_products.html#sthash.KpCfqaDS.dpuf

Sikkim aims to become ‘fully organic’ by 2015

GANGTOK: Sikkim, which started eco-friendly farming from a small area of land about a decade ago, is set to become a fully organic state by 2015, a senior state official has said.

“The entire state will be converted into a certified organic state by 2015. Our schemes and policies are well tuned to realize that goal,”Sikkim Agriculture Secretary Vishal Chauhan said.

According to him, structured organic farming started in the state in 2003 when the government set up the dedicated Sikkim State Organic Board to promote farm techniques that prohibit the use of manufactured synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

“Our chief ,minister, Pawan Chamling, had also introduced a resolution in the assembly seeking to convert entire farming in the state to organic. Now, our farming relies on techniques such as green manure, compost, biological pest control and crop rotation.”

Over 8,000 hectares of land was covered under organic farming between 2003 to 2009. In a bid to make the state fully organic, various state government agencies have been working in coordination.

The state government has completely stopped lifting of quota of chemical fertilizers extended by the Government of India since 2006-07 and all sales points for chemical fertilizers in public and private sector have been shut.

Sikkim government has also promoted large-scale use of bio-fertilisers and provides certified manufactured organic manure to farmers as an alternative to their chemical substitutes, Chauhan said.

In order to provide alternatives to farmers, 24,536 rural compost units and 14,487 vermi-compost units were constructed in farmers’ fields till 2009.

The bio-village programme was also adopted in 2003 and around 400 villages were adopted by the state government till 2009 to benefit some 14,000 farmers and 14,000 acres of land in four districts of the state.

“We have also launched the comprehensive ‘Sikkim Organic Mission‘ as a nodal agency to implement and monitor the programme in time-bound manner. A state-level apex body with the chief minister as its chair oversees the implementation,” the official said.

“Under the new initiative, the government has set a target to implement fully-organic farming technique by 2015. Organic products sell at a premium, which will benefit over 50,000 families in the state and promote organic agro-tourism.”

According to latest data, Sikkim produces some 80,000 million tonnes of farm products, including 45,890 million tonnes of ginger, 3,510 million tonnes of large cardamom, 2,790 million tonnes of turmeric, 4,100 million tonnes of buckwheat, 3,210 million tonnes of urad daal and 20,110 million tonnes of mandarin oranges.

Significant portion of these products are already organic.

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