BIO-FERTILIZER PROJECTS LIKELY TO REDUCE INDIA’S FERTILIZER IMPORTS

Financial assistance through National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) would be provided by the government for the farmers, towards establishment of bio-fertilizers production units across the country.

In a move to reduce the dependence on imports and further encourage the domestic fertilizer sector, the Government of India (GoI) mulls to promote the use of bio fertilizers across the country.

To this effect, the government has taken various measures for encouraging the farmers, towards usage of bio-fertilizers, informed the Minister of State for Chemicals & Fertilizers, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, GoI.

Under these measures, the government provides financial assistance for establishment of bio-fertilizers production unit as back ended subsidy, at 25% of total financial outlay up to a maximum of Rs 40 lakh, through National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

Besides this, a financial assistance of 50% of cost will also be provided for farmers, for promotion of bio-fertilizer units under Integrated Scheme for Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil Palm and Maize (ISOPOM).

Apart from this, the government is also providing financial support for setting up of production units of organic fertilizers, by encouraging the producers of organic fertilizers, across the country, informed the Minister.

Under National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF), a financial support under credit-linked back-ended subsidy, at 33% of total cost of the project up to Rs 60 lakh per unit, would be provided through NABARD, for setting up of fruit/vegetable waste/agro-waste compost unit.

The government also provides 50% financial support for setting up of vermi-compost units, under National Horticulture Mission (NHM).

In view of the constraints in the availability of the Natural Gas, which is important for production of nitrogenous fertilizers, the government is also encouraging the Indian companies to establish joint ventures abroad and enter into long-term agreements with the countries rich in fertilizer resources, for getting fertilizer supplies and inputs to India.

The countries, with which India made similar agreements in previous years, include Oman, Tunisia, Jordan and Morocco.

These moves by the government come in view of India’s near total dependence, to the extent of 90%, on imports of Phosphatic fertilizer and its raw materials, full dependence on Potash fertilizers.

However, these moves would hopefully reduce the Indian dependence on chemical fertilizers and will start bringing back the traditional Indian agricultural practices aimed at production of chemical-free food products.

Retrieved from – https://www.thedollarbusiness.com/bio-fertilizer-projects-likely-to-reduce-indias-fertilizer-imports/

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Agriculture sector is facing a global challenges in 2015

Agriculture has to produce more raw materials to satisfy the increasing and diversifying demands of a growing world population, which is expected to grow by more than a third (around 2.3 billion people) between 2009 and 2050; these figures are often repeated, and for good reason – the challenge they present to global food production is enormous. Projections show that feeding a world population of 9.1 billion people in 2050 will require raising overall food production by some 70% between 2005 and 2050.

Our demands on agriculture don’t stop at production, the sector must also contribute to economic prosperity and the social well being of rural areas, and help preserve natural resources such as land, water and biodiversity – in the face of pressures from urban expansion, industrialization and a changing climate. There is also a pressing need to protect and restore the quality of existing farmland.

Highly productive and resource efficient agriculture mitigates the problems associated with all of these challenges, because it enables us to have more of everything – more crops, and more biodiversity and natural habitats.

Agriculture is a major contributor to land use change, which often implies the destruction of natural habitats – the single most important driver of biodiversity loss. By protecting crops from pests and disease, farmers can optimize yields on the existing agricultural land base, make efficient use of resources (inc. fuel, time, and capital) and prevent the loss of natural habitat that occurs when agricultural land expands to compensate for crop losses.

Without crop protection, losses for certain crops can exceed 80% of potential yield, and low input farming – as typified by organic agriculture – is estimated as averaging up to 34% lower yields than productive agriculture within the EU.

If we wish to maintain and improve yields and make efficient use of natural resources, the use of plant protection products must continue; there are currently no viable alternatives to pesticide use in either conventional or organic farming. Efficient production technologies are imperative to allow us to close yield gaps; however, society must use these technologies in an appropriate way to ensure that agriculture plays a central role in delivering sustainable solutions.

Pesticides are formulated to protect crops by discouraging, confusing, altering the behaviour, or killing target pests, diseases and pathogens. When we consider biodiversity protection, this raises questions about the impact on non-target species that may be unintentionally exposed to pesticides.

Modern pesticides are characterized by their high efficacy and targeted modes of action; the biologically active characteristics of pesticides that pose risk to non-target species are acknowledged and accommodated in European pesticide regulations. Pesticides are one of the most regulated product classes on the European market, and the real drivers of the large scale loss of biodiversity (including land use change) are not subject to regulation as rigorous as that applied to pesticides.

Science, research and development have given us sophisticated crop protection solutions. While their use is certainly not without risk, a sensible, risk-based approach to EU legislation ensures farmers have access to products that when used correctly have no unacceptable effects on their health or the environment. This same stringent legislation allows European consumers a high degree of confidence in the safety, availability and affordability of their food.

Our industry is committed to providing sustainable crop protection solutions; we believe that for agriculture to be sustainable, it must be efficient, productive and contribute to a resilient natural environment. We are acutely aware of society’s demand that crops be produced with minimal environmental impact – and we know that this can only be achieved if farmers have access to appropriate tools and knowledge of best management practices.

As society embraces the challenge of sustainable agriculture, there is growing consensus on the need to combine high agricultural productivity with well-considered environmental protection; however, Europe’s full potential will only be realised with ambitious science-based policy and political support for innovation. The combined challenges of agricultural production and biodiversity protection require that we exploit proven technologies whilst continuing to invest in the research and development of solutions for tomorrow.

Strong public support for biodiversity protection, a knowledgeable and passionate community of famers, and the engaged expertise of industry can be combined to make the rural environmental more biodiversity friendly and more productive.

Retrieved from – http://agri.eu/agriculture-sector-is-facing-a-global-challenges-in-2015-analysis–news6323.html

Assam’s agriculture sector benefitting from scientific practices

Science is being used to benefit the agriculture sector of Assam, and in other parts of North East India, given its sizeable population.

The production of large varieties of fruits and vegetables are now being exposed to advanced technologies for better yield.

Self-reliance is being promoted, as could be seen by the inauguration of the first of its kind agri hub nursery on horticulture farm in the AssamAgriculture University campus in Jorhat.

The nursery has been developed at a cost of Rs. 15 crores and financed under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikash Yojana.

The nursery will annually produce 48 lakh seedlings of various vegetables and seasonal flowers.

This new project will give a huge boost to production and ultimately help in generating more income for the farmers.

“Today, we inaugurated this new agri hub and such things are very important as this will help in the growth of agriculture sector. Making use of such scientific practices will benefit Assam, especially the villages and will also help in tackling unemployment situation. Gradually the youth will also be interested in taking up agriculture, production will go up and income will increase,” said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

While the climatic condition in the North East is conducive for agricultural activities and a large section in the region is involved in agriculture, the lack of scientific application in the field has prevented optimum production.

Recently, the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) in Trombay, gave its approval for the funding of 20 research projects to be taken up by scientists of Assam Agriculture University (AAU) mainly focusing on the development of agriculture sector in the North East.

These initiatives are expected to give a boost to advanced research in the field of agriculture and benefit farmers.

“It is definitely a very good thing because we are able to link up with BARC and it is just an opening. If we do well, I am sure many more projects will flow in. Our scientists will also get an exposure in BARC and other places. It will open up new avenues,” said K M Bujarbaruah, Vice Chancellor, Assam Agricultural University (AAU).

There is a huge scope for development in the agriculture sector in the northeast through implementation of advanced technologies, which besides bringing revenue will address the employment problem.

Retrieved from – http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/assam-s-agriculture-sector-benefitting-from-scientific-practices-114112200538_1.html

Spices production to get a boost

The government has rolled out a programme to enlarge the State’s footprint in the spices market by turning the focus on productivity improvement of pepper, nutmeg, clove, turmeric, and ginger.

An amount of Rs.14 crore has been earmarked in the annual Plan for 2014- 15 to bring more land under spice cultivation, use high-yielding varieties, and assist farmers in technology adoption for improved production.

The lion’s share of the funds for programme, Rs.12.5 crore, has been allocated for pepper. Over the year, the Agriculture Department hopes to bring 3,000 hectares under cultivation with improved varieties of pepper. Farmers will be given a subsidy of Rs.20,000 a hectare to establish new pepper gardens. As many as 30 nurseries are to be established to produce 15 lakh rooted pepper cuttings.

Director of Agriculture R. Ajithkumar said 495 hectares of pepper gardens would be revitalised under the programme. The old vines would be cut down and replaced with good quality vines.

Pepper production in Kerala is marked by low productivity. Though the crop is grown in over 1.71 lakh hectares in the State, production is less than 20,000 tonnes. Karnataka produces the same quantity on just 20,000 hectares. The average yield of pepper in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam is three to five times that in Kerala. The main reason for the poor productivity of pepper in Kerala is that most of the vines are too old and infested with pests and diseases.

One of the highlights of the programme is the promotion of homestead cultivation of bush pepper. “There is very limited scope for bringing more area under pepper cultivation. Bush pepper can be grown as an ornamental plant in pots or bags.

Easy to manage and harvest, it provides an additional income for households”, says Mr. Ajithkumar.

The scheme envisages the establishment of good quality progeny orchards at 11 department farms to produce nutmeg grafts for distribution to farmers. Clove seedlings will also be supplied under the programme.

Productivity improvement of organic turmeric and ginger is another part of the scheme.

Retrieved from – http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/spices-production-to-get-a-boost/article6282730.ece

Modi wants to take tech from ‘lab to farmland’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday urged scientists to take technology to farms for raising crop productivity at a time when the government is being attacked for surging prices of some essential commodities.

Pitching for greater use of research for boosting the agriculture sector, Modi gave the slogan “lab to land”, saying that farmers should be able to enhance production to increase their income and feed the country as well as the world.

“We have to prove two points. One is our farmers are capable of feeding the whole country and world, and second, agriculture is capable of filling the pockets of our farmers,” said Modi while addressing the 86th foundation day of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

He called upon all agriculture universities and colleges in the country – the heads of many of which participated in the function – to immediately prepare a data bank of progressive farmers in their adjoining areas and also digitize their research papers and thesis.

“We should target to digitize and compile all the research being done and already completed in agriculture universities,” Modi said.

Retrieved from – http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/modi-wants-to-take-tech-from-lab-to-farmland-114073000044_1.html

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

Monsoon hits Kerala, likely to cover entire country by mid-July: IMD forecast

On Friday morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) announced the onset of the southwest monsoon over Kerala, in line with its forecasts for the onset of the four-month rainy season that is vital to the Indian economy. However, the met department has warned of a below-average monsoon this year, which could pose a challenge to the new central government’s attempts to resuscitate the economy.

“Southwest monsoon has set in over Kerala today, dated June 6th. It has further advanced into most parts of south Arabian sea, Kerala and some parts of Tamil Nadu,” said LS Rathore, director general of meteorology, India Meteorological Department.

The Maldives- Comorin areas, most parts of southwest Bay of Bengal and some parts of west central Bay of Bengal have also been covered by the monsoon. Rathore added, “We see a steady progress of monsoon in coastal parts and even northeastern states. The scenario does not look the same for central India.”

In the next 24 hours, isolated heavy rainfall are expected to occur over sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala and Lakshadweep. As per IMD, conditions were becoming favourable for further advance of monsoon into south and central Arabian sea, some parts of south Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Bay of Bengal during next 2-3 days.

In the next 48 hours, the monsoon is expected to hit parts of north eastern states, where pre-monsoon rains have picked up. The southwest monsoon normally arrives in Kerala around June 1. It usually advances northwards in surges and covers the entire country by July 15.

Meteorologists state that it was unlikely that monsoon would cover the entire country by mid July. As per the met department forecast in April, the monsoon rainfall was likely to be 95 per cent of long period average (LPA) for the period June to September with average rainfall over India for June to September to be 89 cm.

A couple of months ago, the US Climate Prediction Centre along with the US National Centres for Environmental Prediction had predicted signs of cyclone genesis in the Arabian Sea along with the onset of monsoon.

According to a report in The Hindu, if this were to happen, it could enhance cloudiness over the tropical Indian Ocean and enhance monsoonal activity in the Bay of Bengal. This would make for ideal conditions for the monsoon to progress along the west coast and take the Arabian Sea arm of the monsoon to where it should reach by that time – central India.

However, the report had warned, these are early days yet and a lot can happen from now and the actual onset and onward track of the monsoon over the landmass.

In 2014, India is likely to have below-average monsoon rainfall. A couple of months ago, IMD’s first monsoon forecast was in line with the outlook of the World Meteorological Organisation that predicted mostly below-average rains in much of South Asia, including India.
Policy-makers have been waiting for the monsoon as much as the farmers this time round owing to forecasts that the June-September southwest monsoon – which is vital for about 60 per cent of India’s farmland, mostly paddy – could be undermined by the warming of the southern Pacific Ocean, known as the El Nino effect.

The last few droughts in India (in 2002, 2004 and 2009) coincided with El Nino, particularly in 2009, when food inflation shot up to 20 per cent and has remained high since. Dealing with a below-average monsoon in the kharif cropping season will be top of the agenda for the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.

Earlier this month, the IMD had forecast that the monsoon would arrive in Kerala on June 5, with a model error of plus or minus four days. The onset date last year was June 1 and in 2012 it was June 5.

Farming accounts for 14 per cent of the nearly $2 trillion Indian economy but it has a much larger direct or indirect impact on the well-being of people, particularly in rural areas.

Good rainfall boosts output and incomes in rural areas, which increases demand for gold, consumer goods, farm implements and automobiles. The agriculture ministry is already working overtime to prepare contingency plans and is encouraging states to be ready to adjust cropping patterns and choice of seeds depending on the availability of water. Indian farmers still have 15-30 days to plan for the sowing of kharif crops, largely paddy, soyabean, cotton, pulses and coarse cereals.

Retrieved from: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/36136381.cms?

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/monsoon-hits-kerala-know-when-it-is-reaching-you/1/365552.html

NE India and Italy eye business ties

Italy is looking forward at developing bilateral business and trade ties with North-east India. The Kolkata-based consulate of the west European nation has identified food processing, infrastructure and energy as three sectors where bilateral relations could be developed.

“To start-with, I think we can primarily work on three sectors, food processing, energy and infrastructure, to build bilateral relationship with North-East India,” said Cesare Bieller, consul general of Italy.

He added: “I cannot deny that there isn’t much business opportunity in North East. Also, the awareness level regarding this region is far less amongst the business community in Italy compared to other regions of India. But, I feel there exists great potential in food processing, energy and infrastructure in this region. My job is to pass on the message to the business community in my country so that business and trade relations could take-off.”

Bieller was in Guwahati today and had an interactive session with a group of journalists under the banner of Federation of Industry and Commerce of North Eastern Region (FINER).

Bieller, however, had a word of caution for the food processing sector of North-East. Citing the recent ban on alphonso mangoes by EU, he said Italy, along with other European nations, adhere to strict quality checks when it comes to import of food products. “You need to ensure certain standards. These are requirements you cannot avoid. Ensure the quality of what you grow and what you produce meet our standards,” Bieller said.

The North-East’s industry is looking forward at attracting technology from Italy, particularly in the food processing sector. “We have potential in food processing industry. What we need most to exploit that potential is technology. We also want some sort of buyback arrangement so that investors is ensured, at least in the initial years, that selling his products would not be a problem,” said RS Joshi, chairman of FINER.

FINER has also urged upon the consul general to press upon the Union government to ease ATA Carnet norms for North-Eastern states of India. ATA Carnet is an international uniform customs document which permits duty free temporary admission of goods especially for exhibition and showcasing purpose. “We would want food products be included under ATA Carnet for North-East as then only it would be of much help for us. We would also want Guwahati international airport to be authorised to avail ATA Carnet facilities,” said Joshi.

Retrieved from – http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/ne-india-and-italy-eye-business-ties-114052601244_1.html

Agriculture must get climate smart

With the Indian Met department having recently warned of weak monsoons this year due to the El Nino effect, there will be serious implications on agricultural production and food prices. More than 60% of the area under cropping in India is rain-fed. Low and erratic monsoon will severely affect the livelihood of those dependent on agriculture. It may be recalled that the frequency and intensity of droughts have increased during the last two decades. This is the direct impact of global warming and climate change. The recent IPCC report has highlighted that India’s high vulnerability and exposure to climate change and global warming will slow its economic growth, impact human health, and make poverty reduction and food security efforts more difficult. It is also projected that the climate change will lead to severe water shortage and trigger water-borne diseases. There are projections that India could lose 10-40% of its current crop production by the end of century due to global warming. A recent IFPRI-CCAFS study estimated that a 10% drought will increase prices of rice by 23%, followed by maize (16%), and pigeon pea (10%). These evidence indicate that drought will upset the government’s efforts of increasing agricultural production, ensuring food security and controlling food inflation.

There is no choice but to avert the negative impacts of a drought-like situation to meet the future demand for food, feed and fibre. It requires a long-term strategy which would prepare farmers to adapt and respond to climate change, and effectively overcome the threat of drought and other climate change eventualities. Climate-smart agriculture, which sustainably increases agricultural productivity and enhances achievement of national food security goals, provides a window of opportunity to avert the impact of drought. It contributes in:

  1. Promoting sustainable increase in agricultural productivity by incorporating climate change perspective (including drought),
  2. Building adaptive capacity and resilience of production portfolio to climatic risks without compromising food security and,
  3. Minimising green-house gas emissions and maximising carbon sequestration by improved management practices.

More precisely, it is a ‘win-win’ proposition that enhances agricultural productivity and farm incomes, reduces climatic risks (especially drought), and controls emission of green-house gases. To avert negative impact of climate change, accelerated adoption of climate-smart agriculture would be necessary which would require dynamic national policies and investment priorities that will positively influence local institutions and interventions to adapt climate change.

To prepare for averting impact of drought, we need to have a four-pronged strategy –

1) Climate-smart technologies: An array of climate-smart technologies are available, well-tested in different agro-ecological regions. These include  –

a)       stress resistance high-yielding varieties,

b)       soil test based nutrient management,

c)       rainwater conservation and management,

d)       efficient irrigation practices, and

e)       judicious use of energy.

The available technologies need to be complemented by risk-reducing agricultural diversification without compromising the national objective of food security and income stability. Village-level need assessment should be done to identify promising technologies which improve resource use efficiency, increase farm production and income, and minimise climatic risks.

2) Capacity building of key stakeholders: Knowledge management at the grass-root level is a basic necessity for preparing for climate change eventualities. Therefore, a campaign may be initiated to enhance capacity of farmers to implement climate-smart technologies and effective use of weather advisories. Capacity-building programs at village/cluster level may be organised. Use of electronic and print media may also be used to prepare farmers to meet the challenge of climate change.

3) ICT-based weather advisory: Weather advisory at the local level will play an important role in pursuing climate-resilient agricultural production systems. Location-specific weekly weather information and value-added agro-advisories should be disseminated to the farmers through the ICT. The already available Kissan SMS portal should be used for disseminating weather advisory to the farmers, extension specialists and other stakeholders. The Indian Met and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research should work in tandem to evolve value-added advisories for dissemination.

4) Weather index insurance: A part of the risk can be reduced by climate-smart technologies and improved management practices, but risks arising due to extreme weather events have to be mitigated through agricultural insurance. Several models of agricultural insurance are now available, but in recent times, index-based insurance has become more popular. Provision should be made the farmers crops are insured to compensate then in the extreme event of drought or other climate change eventuality.

Efforts need to be made to transform each village into climate-smart agricultural locations, which synergises the interventions listed here. Such initiatives will prepare farmers and other stakeholders to meet the threat of climate change, including drought. These efforts will avert any likely agrarian distress due to changing climatic conditions and will also safeguard the efforts of government to ensure food security and alleviate poverty.

Retrieved from – http://www.financialexpress.com/news/column-agriculture-must-get-climate-smart/1252242/1

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)

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