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Posted at: May 13, 2018, 12:06 AM; last updated: May 13, 2018, 12:06 AM (IST)

Spurred by govt, U’khand tops in organic farming

Spurred by govt, U’khand tops in organic farming
GOING GREEN: Experts say the government needs to fix lucrative prices for organic produce to motivate farmers to quit conventional farming. Tribune photo

Jotirmay Thapliyal in Dehradun

ORGANIC farming isn’t just a fad; in Uttarakhand around one lakh farmers are engaged in it, prompting the state government to claim that it is number one in the country in organic agricultural production. The Uttarakhand Organic Commodity Board offers exclusive services to farmers unlike in other states where organic farming is the preserve of a few individuals. 

Government officials say the state has a credible certification agency that sets benchmarks for organic agriculture and its produce. Organic farming is spread across 500 clusters encompassing nearly 50,000 hectares of agricultural land. Cultivation of traditional crops such as finger millet locally known as Koda, Barnyar millet known as Jhangora and ‘chaulai’ has got a big boost.

To strengthen its organic credibility, the government is readying a legislation. The Act will certify the entire organic produce which could be sold as brand organic items. There would be a provision of a penalty of Rs 1 lakh and a one-year jail term if an individual is found tweaking the non-organic produce. Uttarakhand is famous for rajma, basmati rice and honey whose organic value within and outside the country is enormous.

The Union agriculture ministry has recently sanctioned Rs 1,500 crore for the state for three years to promote organic farming. Uttarakhand Organic Commodity Board (UOCB) managing director Vinay Kumar says the state is ahead of Sikkim in terms of organic produce and varieties of organic pulses, which are in great demand in European West Asian markets. The Board is focusing marketing to enable the farmers to get better prices. 

Biju Negi, who is a strong advocate of organic farming and indigenous seeds, says rampant use of chemical fertilizers has led to falling productivity of land. “The farmers are realizing it that it is now a question of their survival,” he said. An NGO, Navdanya, an organization based in Dehradun, has also been working for organic farming in 22 states of the country. Navdanya’s executive director Dr Vinod Kumar Bhatt says that while our elders handed down the knowledge of indigenous agricultural techniques, “we were solely motivated by greed.” The chemicals-laced fertilizers have become counterproductive, spoiling the land, he said. 

An organic farmer based in Nakronda village of Dehradun district, Deepak Upadhyay, says that a lot more needs to be done for making organic farming sustainable. Some farmers are still hesitant to quit conventional farming because they are unsure about the prices for their organic produce.


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