“Anand pattern” to drive Organic farming growth in North East

To put on the fast track the growth of organic farming in north eastern states, central government has designed a scheme based on the principles inherent to the Anand pattern for milk development in the country. The scheme will be accordingly followed in all the seven states of the region to make the tools for development including the knowledge of scientists, etc available to the farmer-participants. It will also

integrate knowledge systems and lead the professionals required to ensure best possible outcomes for the village communities and their natural environments. For implementation of the scheme nodal agency for development of North Eastern Region Ministery of Development of Ne Region (DONER) has set aside a fund of Rs 100 crore for the current year. Anand pattern as an organizational structure was a huge success, able to rapidly increase milk production in India which followed over 100 years of economic, social and political dynamics.

Based on similar lines taking into account the demographic pattern, cultural diversity and other factors the organic farming schemes has been designed to expedite the tepid growth process of the promising sector. Integration of farming system (IFS) approach with emphasis on two-four main commercial crops in combination with other crops under multi-cropping, rotational cropping, inter-cropping, mixed-cropping practices with allied activities like horticulture, livestock, animal husbandry (diary, goaterry piggery, poultry, duckery), apiculture, sericulture etc, the report said.

Many north eastern state governments are promoting organic agriculture . Sikkim has already brought 64,296 ha area under certification process. Nagaland and Mizoram have also drafted and adopted policies to promote organic farming, but they are yet to implement necessary strategies to under certification.

The scheme also envisages development of dedicated seed production cluster under each council/ federation which will be formed based on the Anand pattern of development followed in Gujarat under scheme Flood for the speedy development of dairy industry.

To implement the scheme a project management unit consisting of professionals will be set up in Guwahati by the DONER Ministry and placed under the administrative control of the North Eastern Council.

Retrieve from – http://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20151011/2699460.html

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Organic food business grows four-fold in 3 years

Growing health consciousness and awareness about harmful pesticides has nearly quadrupled the size of organic foods in India in the last three years. Organic foods, which started out by occupying fewer shelves at retail stores, is now a Rs 300 crore business in the domestic market. The export market from India is even bigger at Rs 700 crore, according to industry experts.

Consumers are opting for healthier eating habits which is driving entrepreneurship in organic foods, prodding retailers to offer greater shelf space to brands in this category. As per industry estimates, the category is currently growing at 50 per cent per annum.

Industry experts believe with growing talk about the bad effects of chemicals and pesticides used in the food industry, products that are believed to be free of such substances will grow exponentially.

“Three years back, this market was approximately Rs 70 crore. We are growing at a very healthy rate year on year. In the last 5 years, shelf space given to organic foods has tripled. However, retailers are yet to realize the full potential,” said N Balasubramanian, CEO, Sresta Natural Bioproducts, who claims its brand 24 Mantra is the largest player in organic foods in India.

The company is present in key categories like atta, brown rice, honey, tur dal, turmeric, juices and breakfast cereals in organic foods.

Given the growth of this market, 24 Mantra, which is present in more than 125 cities across India, is planning to extend to ready to cook traditional products like pongal, poha, khichdi and millet dosa as well.

Mohit Khattar, MD & CEO, Godrej Nature’s Basket said awareness around polluted ground water near industrial area, increasingly chemical laden environment in general or the harmful impact of chemicals in day to day food has added to the consciousness of consumers. “It definitely makes them want to change simple things around them. And one of the things they can change easily is adopting a healthier and more sustainable way of life. It is this context that organic products are seeing increased acceptance and growing popularity,” said Khattar.

Godrej Nature’s Basket, which has been a pioneer in bringing and selling organic products like tea, pasta, sauces, across its stores, plans to enhance the range of organic options further and making the availability of these more consistent.

Organic packaged food comes at a premium to the regular variety of packaged commodity. If the monthly household expense for a family of four on grocery is in the range of Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000, a switch to a brand of organic food would cost Rs 1,200-1,500 more per month. “This is almost the same as what a family would spend on a movie outing over a weekend,” said Balasubramanian.

Retrieved from – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Organic-food-business-grows-four-fold-in-3-years/articleshow/48646912.cms

Big push for organic tea in India – Tea Board of India provides 25% more subsidy than normal

The Tea Board of India is giving a big push to organic tea production in the country for the first time by providing 25 per cent more subsidy than the normal subsidy of 30 per cent.

This has for the first time been incorporated in the Twelfth Plan by the board to give a boost to organic tea, which has been gaining momentum in the country (see chart).

Besides, it has a premium market commanding high prices abroad. “We will try to mitigate the problems being faced by gardens wanting to go organic to some extent,” S. Soundarajan, director of tea development, Tea Board of India, told The Telegraph.

The total money kept for orthodox tea production subsidy is Rs 150 crore. A total of 50 per cent of the cost of certification will be paid as subsidy.

The term organic describes both how an agricultural product is grown and processed. An organic product is free of chemicals, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic modifications and field use of sewage sludge as fertiliser.

It takes a minimum of three years for a garden to become organic and it will have to be certified as organic by an accredited certifying agency. Organic tea constituted two per cent of the total organic products exported in India in 2012-13.

The problems for gardens that wish to go organic are two-fold – yield drop and increase in cost of production. Sources say the average yield drop is 44 per cent over the conventional cultivation and over 65 per cent increase in the cost of production.

Officials say one of the primary reasons for a shift to the organic sector is the premium market that commands high prices. Besides this, organic tea cultivation could be a solution to restore/increase the continuous depleting crop productivity under the present chemical farming practice, to restore soil/ecosystem, depleted under years of synthetic fertilisers and agro-chemical application and to redress the problem of climate change and to generate employment and reduce health hazards for the workers.

“It is a progressive move by the board to encourage gardens to go organic. But to get benefits for us who already have an organic tea garden – Hathikuli in Assam will have to see and talk to the board,” managing director of Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited, Jagjeet Singh Kandal, told The Telegraph. He said the company is proud to be pioneering in the development and evolution of an effective package of practices for organic conversion and cultivation.

The market for organic tea is in Europe and especially Germany. “The market in India is very small and a niche one,” he said.

The 687-hectare Hathikuli tea garden, situated on the periphery of Kaziranga National Park, is certified organic according to the Indian, US, European Union and Japanese organic agricultural standards.

The process of organic transformation of Hathikuli garden was undertaken in 2007 and was achieved in 2011. “Though the move is good I am sceptical of the economic benefits after three years of conversion from inorganic to organic. Costs are rising,” C.S. Bedi, managing director of Rossel Tea, said.

The working group on climate change constituted by the Inter-governmental Group on Tea under the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, which met in Rome last year, had said organic cultivation of tea is a sustainable way to battle climate change. “Organic cultivation of tea is a sustainable way to combat climate change. Use of naturally available products, such as organic manure or compost, increases climate resilience,” the group had said in its report last year.

The tea board today announced that tea production in 2014-15 was 1197.18 million kg, of which the share of Assam was 606.80 million kg. The production in 2014 calendar year from January to December was 1207.31 million kg, of which Assam’s share is 610.97 million kg.

Retrieved from – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150604/jsp/frontpage/story_23884.jsp#.VW_TVNKqqkq

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/

Why organic farming has not caught up yet in India

Development of organic agriculture as an alternative tool to address the ill-effects of chemical-based cultivation practices is a recent phenomenon in India. It had achieved dramatic progress in the beginning but could not maintain the pace. The growth of organic agriculture in India has been accomplished by three categories of farmers.

The first category is from no input or low input use zones, practising it as a tradition or by default with no organic certification such as the tribes of north-east region. The second and third groups are certified and non-certified farmers, who have recently adopted organic farming realising the ill-effects of modern agriculture and benefits under organic cultivation.

International scenario

Demand for organic food products is growing rapidly across the globe and amounted to $64 billion in 2012.

Commercial organic agriculture is now practised in more than 164 countries in an area of about 37.5 million hectare representing approximately 0.9 per cent of total farmland along with 549 certification bodies and 732 affiliates of International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) from 113 countries.

The leading producers are Australia, European countries, Argentina and the US. Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based on the standards set by the IFOAM established in 1972.

Exports

During 2013-14, India exported 135 products, realisation from which was to the tune of $403, million including $183 million contributed by exports of organic textile. Major destinations for organic products from India are the US, EU, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, South-East Asian countries, West Asia, South Africa, etc.

Soyabean (70 per cent) lead among the products exported followed by cereals and millets other than basmati (six per cent), processed food products (five per cent), basmati rice (four per cent), sugar (three per cent), tea (two per cent), pulses and lentils (one per cent), dry fruits (one per cent), spices (one per cent).

Certification requirements

Total area under organic certification in India in 2013-14 is estimated to be 4.72 million ha with 15 per cent are certified and the rest under forest area. India has the highest number of organic producers in the world (5,97,873), mainly due to small holdings.

The country has internationally acclaimed certification process for export, import and domestic markets which is regulated by National Programme on Organic Production. There are at least 18 accredited certification agencies which are responsible for the certification process. Though Government initiatives such as National Project on Organic Farming, Horticulture Mission for North-East & Himalayan States, National Horticulture Mission, National Project on Management of Soil Health and Fertility, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and also Network Project on Organic Farming of Indian Council of Agricultural Research aims at promoting organic agriculture in the country.

However, there is a wide gap in scientific validation and research compared to the progress in the same for general agriculture. Also, there is a need to aid farmers with advisory services (technical and managerial support to form cluster and adopt best management practices).

Key problems faced by organic farmers during the transition phase are non-realisation of premium . A number of State Governments have already made significant strides in organic farming such as Sikkim, Mizoram and Uttrakhand to turn the States completely organic.

However, to accomplish the desired dream, importance must be given to have a mechanism compensating farmers’ sacrifice during initial year of land conversion. The emerging business opportunity in retailing of organic farm produce has drawn the attention of many private parties. This has led to establishment of direct link between farmers and retailers/exporters.

Institutional initiatives

However, each unit is still working in isolation. The International Centre for Competencies in Organic Agriculture (ICCOA) started a knowledge centre for all the stakeholders in 2004 with a view to establish itself.

According to Mukesh Gupta (Executive Director, Morarka Foundation, Jaipur), ICCOA has played the critical role in bringing all the stakeholders together for over a decade now. So far, initiatives of ICCOA such as workshops, training programmes, conferences, seminars, trade fairs, projects, research studies, publications have proved remarkable for growth.

Strong linkage among the organisations in the sector indeed may be a crucial factor in deciding the pace of growth of organic farming in India.

Retrieved from – http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/markets/commodities/why-organic-farming-has-not-caught-up-yet-in-india/article6933518.ece

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

Organic Farming in India Points the Way to Sustainable Agriculture

Standing amidst his lush green paddy fields in Nagapatnam, a coastal district in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, a farmer named Ramajayam remembers how a single wave changed his entire life.

The simple farmer was one of thousands whose agricultural lands were destroyed by the 2004 Asian tsunami, as massive volumes of saltwater and metre-high piles of sea slush inundated these fertile fields in the aftermath of the disaster.

“The general perception is that organic farming takes years to yield good results and revenue. But during post-tsunami rehabilitation work […] we proved that in less than a year organic methods could yield better results than chemical farming.” — M Revathi, the founder-trustee of the Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers’ Movement (TOFarM)

On the morning of Dec. 26, 2004, Ramajayam had gone to his farm in Karaikulam village to plant casuarina saplings. As he walked in, he noticed his footprints were deeper than usual and water immediately filled between the tracks, a phenomenon he had never witnessed before.

A few minutes later, like a black mass, huge walls of water came towards him. He ran for his life. His farms were a pathetic sight the next day.

The Nagapatnam district recorded 6,065 deaths, more than 85 percent of the state’s death toll. Farmers bore the brunt, struggling to revive their fields, which were inundated for a distance of up to two miles in some locations. Nearly 24,000 acres of farmland were destroyed by the waves.

Worse still was that the salty water did not recede, ruining the paddy crop that was expected to be harvested 15 days after the disaster. Small ponds that the farmers had dug on their lands with government help became incredibly saline, and as the water evaporated it had a “pickling effect” on the soil, farmers say, essentially killing off all organic matter crucial to future harvests.

Plots belonging to small farmers like Ramajayam, measuring five acres or less, soon resembled saltpans, with dead soil caked in mud stretching for miles. Even those trees that withstood the tsunami could not survive the intense period of salt inundation, recalled Kumar, another small farmer.

“We were used to natural disasters; but nothing like the tsunami,” Ramajayam added.

Cognizant of the impact of the disaster on poor rural communities, government offices and aid agencies focused much of their rehabilitation efforts on coastal dwellers, offering alternative livelihood schemes in a bid to lessen the economic burden of the catastrophe.

The nearly 10,000 affected small and marginal farmers, who have worked these lands for generations, were reluctant to accept a change in occupation. Ignoring the reports of technical inspection teams that rehabilitating the soil could take up to 10 years, some sowed seed barely a year after the tsunami.

Not a single seed sprouted, and many began to lose hope.

It was then that various NGOs stepped in, and began a period of organic soil renewal and regeneration that now serves as a model for countless other areas in an era of rampant climate change.

The ‘soil doctor’

One of the first organisations to begin sustained efforts was the Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers’ Movement (TOFarM), which adopted the village of South Poigainallur as the site of experimental work.

The first step was measuring the extent of the damage, including assessing the depth of salt penetration and availability of organic content. When it became clear that the land was completely uncultivable, the organisation set to work designing unique solutions for every farm that involved selecting seeds and equipment based on the soil condition and topography.

Sea mud deposits were removed, bunds were raised and the fields were ploughed. Deep trenches were made in the fields and filled with the trees that had been uprooted by the tsunami. As the trees decomposed the soil received aeration.

Dhaincha seeds, a legume known by its scientific name Sesbania bispinosa, were then sown in the fields.

“It [dhaincha] is called the ‘soil doctor’ because it is a green manure crop that grows well in saline soil,” M Revathi, the founder-trustee of TOFarM, told IPS.

When the nutrient-rich dhaincha plants flowered in about 45 days, they were ploughed back into the ground, to loosen up the soil and help open up its pores. Compost and farmyard manure were added in stages before the sowing season.

Today, the process stands as testament to the power of organic solutions.

Organic practices save the day

Poor farmers across Tamil Nadu are heavily dependent on government aid. Each month the state government’s Public Distribution System hands out three tonnes of rice to over 20 million people

To facilitate this, the government runs paddy procurement centres, wherein officials purchase farmers’ harvests for a fixed price. While this assures farmers of a steady income, the fixed price is far below the market rate.

Thus marginal farmers, who number some 13,000, barely make enough to cover their monthly needs. After the 90-135 day paddy harvest period, farmers fall back on vegetable crops to ensure their livelihood. But in districts like Nagapatnam, where fresh water sources lie 25 feet below ground level, farmers who rely on rain-fed agriculture are at a huge disadvantage.

When the tsunami washed over the land, many feared they would never recover.

“The microbial count on a pin head, which should be 4,000 in good soil, dropped down to below 500 in this area,” Dhanapal, a farmer in Kilvelur of Nagapatnam district and head of the Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Association, informed IPS.

But help was not far away.

A farmer named S Mahalingam’s eight-acre plot of land close to a backwater canal in North Poigainallur was severely affected by the tsunami. His standing crop of paddy was completely destroyed.

NGOs backed by corporate entities and aid agencies pumped out seawater from Mahalingam’s fields and farm ponds. They distributed free seeds and saplings. The state government waived off farm loans. Besides farmyard manure, Mahalingam used the leaves of neem, nochi and Indian beech (Azadirachta indica, Vitex negundo and Pongamia glabra respectively) as green manure.

Subsequent rains also helped remove some of the salinity. The farmer then sowed salt-resistant traditional rice varieties called Kuruvikar and Kattukothalai. In two years his farms were revived, enabling him to continue growing rice and vegetables.

NGO’s like the Trichy-based Kudumbam have innovated other methods, such as the use of gypsum, to rehabilitate burnt-out lands.

A farmer named Pl. Manikkavasagam, for instance, has benefitted from the NGO’s efforts to revive his five-acre plot of farmland, which failed to yield any crops after the tsunami.

Remembering an age-old practice, he dug trenches and filled them with the green fronds of palms that grow in abundance along the coast.

Kudumbam supplied him with bio-fertlizers such as phosphobacteria, azospirillum and acetobacter, all crucial in helping breathe life into the suffocated soil.

Kudumbam distributed bio-solutions and trained farmers to produce their own. As Nagapatnam is a cattle-friendly district, bio solutions using ghee, milk, cow dung, tender coconut, fish waste, jaggery and buttermilk in varied combinations could be made easily and in a cost-effective manner. Farmers continue to use these bio-solutions, all very effective in controlling pests.

Using bio-fertilizers, farmers in Tamil Nadu are reviving agricultural lands that were choked by salt deposits in the aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami. Credit: Jency Samuel/IPS

Using bio-fertilizers, farmers in Tamil Nadu are reviving agricultural lands that were choked by salt deposits in the aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami

“The general perception is that organic farming takes years to yield good results and revenue,” TOFarM’s Revathi told IPS. “But during post-tsunami rehabilitation work, with data, we proved that in less than a year organic methods could yield better results than chemical farming. That TOFarM was invited to replicate this in Indonesia and Sri Lanka is proof that farms can be revived through sustainable practices even after disasters,” she added.

As early as 2006, farmers like Ramajayam, having planted a salt-resistant strain of rice known as kuzhivedichan, yielded a harvest within three months of the sowing season.

Together with restoration of some 2,000 ponds by TOFarM, farmers in Nagapatnam are confident that sustainable agriculture will stand the test of time, and whatever climate-related challenges are coming their way. The lush fields of Tamil Nadu’s coast stand as proof of their assertion.

Retrieved from – http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/01/organic-farming-in-india-points-the-way-to-sustainable-agriculture/

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

India’s northeast is Natural Economic Zone: PM

Describing India’s northeast as a “Natural Economic Zone”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a slew of packages to develop the region that included a special scholarship for 10,000 students and development of rail, air, road, and digital connectivity.

“In India, the word SEZ (special economic zone) is very popular but after visiting this area (Assam, Manipur and Nagaland) for the last three days, I found that it is not only SEZ but it is NEZ. When I say NEZ, I mean ‘Natural Economic Zone’,” Modi said while inaugurating the annual Hornbill festival at the Naga heritage village in Kisama.

“In other parts of India, we will find SEZ, a man-made economic zone. In this region it is NEZ, but unfortunately it is untapped. It is my priority now to nourish this NEZ for NE (North East). NE is meant for NEZ and NEZ is meant for NE,” he said.

After becoming prime minister, Modi said his government has taken a number of initiatives for the development of the eight northeastern states.

“I am sure this is the proper time when we are celebrating the Hornbill festival and preparing for Christmas. We have decided to start a scheme called Ishan Uday, a special scholarship for 10,000 northeast students,” he announced.

“Another scheme called Ishan Vikas will help in internship and exposure to visit IITs, NITs and NIFTs in other parts of India during their vacation. Every year, we will take 2,000 students and 500 teachers from this area to other parts of the country. This exposure will benefit this area.”

Modi said his government will set up six more colleges, especially in the field of agriculture, in the northeast.

“The northeastern states can be the capital of India’s organic agriculture. Only the northeastern states can provide organic food to the humanity and to the world, and that’s why we have decided to set up six new colleges in these areas,” he said.

Acknowledging India’s rich heritage in the field of textiles, Modi also announced the setting up of modern garment manufacturing centres in each northeastern state, beginning with Nagaland, Assam and Sikkim.

“We have a rich heritage in the textile field. We have master weavers and our women have this art in their fingers. We have to utilise this art for the development of the region. The government will spend Rs.20 crore each on these centres,” he said.

Modi recalled the decision by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to allocate 10 percent of the annual budget for the development of the region.

“My government too has made a provision of Rs.53,000 crore for the development of the eight northeastern states and Rs.28,000 crore for starting 14 new railway lines to boost connectivity in the region.”

Modi said many tourists arrive here from various parts of India and other countries.

“This area is the best tourist destination. But before that, we require railway, air, road, and digital connectivity for its all-round development. That is why we have decided to have 14 new railway lines in the region,” he said.

To improve power and digital connectivity, the prime minister said an amount of Rs.5,000 crore has been earmarked for six states to strengthen intra-state power transmission and distribution systems.

A similar amount has been allocated for boosting 2G mobile connectivity for the eight states.

Recognizing the potential of the youth of the region in sports, Modi announced the setting up of a national sports university in Manipur.

“The people of northeast will be the best beneficiaries of this sports university,” he said.

Expressing his eagerness to develop tourism in the northeast, he said: “There is tremendous scope for India in the field of tourism. However, it is still untapped in these areas. But we are now focusing on it.”

Retrieved from – http://zeenews.india.com/news/north-east/indias-northeast-is-natural-economic-zone-pm-modi_1507742.html

Aid plea for Hathikuli farm

Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd (APPL), the second largest tea producer in the country, is moving the Centre to help it sustain its organic initiative at Hathikuli — the largest integrated organic farm in the country.

The tea company, which has 25 gardens in Assam and Bengal, is making this move to take advantage of the Rs 100 crore budget provision made this year to promote organic farming in the Northeast.

A senior company official said as a first move, it is looking to the government to allocate funds from the current year’s budget for organic production and will send a detailed proposal.

“This will encourage sustaining the organic movement in the Northeast,” he said.

The cumulative loss of going organic at Hathikuli has been Rs 16 crore, which is mainly due to loss of production, he added.

The process of organic transformation was undertaken in 2007 and it was achieved in 2011. “The acreage converted to organic farming is the largest contiguous conversion that has taken place anywhere in the country,” the official said.

The 687-hectare Hathikuli tea garden, situated on the periphery of Kaziranga National Park, is certified organic according to the Indian, US, European Union and Japanese organic agricultural standards.

Hathikuli is known for its CTC, orthodox, green teas and black pepper with a total annual production of 600 metric tonnes.

The teas are being exported to Germany, the US, the UK and West Asian countries.

Hathikuli Tea Garden

Hathikuli Tea Garden

The demand for organic food and beverages in the country is huge and estimated at $129.3 million and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15 per cent.

“We are in the process of educating ourselves and developing organic packages and practices, which will help create a knowledge base for farmers across the world and specifically Assam,” the official said.

The company’s net profit during 2013-14 reflected a growth of 56 per cent compared to 2012-13. The company held its annual general meeting last month with Ranjit Barthakur as its chairman.

The company has recorded an increase of nine per cent in its own crop harvest as compared to the Assam Valley increase of six per cent.

The company has focused on increasing its volume on operations through sustained development of its tea areas and purchase of bought leaf for conversion. It has also focused on orthodox manufacturing, which has added considerable value to the operations.

The focus on quality has also improved its earnings.

APPL has deployed a fairly large number of mechanical harvesters across 17 estates, as these machines will help in harvesting the crops in time. “This would also help in availability of mandays to do cultivation, as many estates are facing a shortage of workers,” the official said.

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