Organic farming yet to branch out
By Sam Paul A | Published: 05th July 2016 05:35 AM |
KOZHIKODE: Even though the hype and hoopla over the organic farming revolution has swept the state like wildfire in the past couple of years, a low-down on the ground reality reveals that Kerala is still crawling in the cradle.
According to data sourced from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, a meagre 1.26 per cent of the total agricultural land in the state is currently under organic certification.
That means, of the total 20,42,881 hectares of net area under cultivation in the state, organic farming is being practiced merely in 25,899.395 hectares in the state.
It further notes that a total of 14.89 lakh hectares in the country has adopted organic practice after shifting from conventional farming so far. Of this, Madhya Pradesh shows the way with 4.61 lakh hectares under organic certification. This is followed by Maharashtra (1.98 lakh hectares), Rajasthan (1.55 lakh hectares), Odisha (95,896 hectares) and Karnataka (93,963 hectares). In neighbouring Tamil Nadu - the state which Kerala depends on most to cater to the burgeoning domestic demand for vegetables- is at the bottom of the table with only 14,456.50 hectares under organic farming.
Says B R Reghunath, Dean (Agriculture), College of Agriculture, Kerala Agriculture University, “Transition from conventional farming to organic farming is time consuming. An organic farm is incubated gradually by keeping it fallow and completely discouraging the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The issue is that the farmers who wish to switch to organic cultivation will have to suffer financial loses during the transition period, which most of them in the state can’t bear. On the other end, there is a high demand for organic products, which often results in adulteration. The state government should soon come up with a policy prohibiting the use of chemical substances in agriculture while helping farmers to switch to the organic method,” he says.
Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar asures that the government is committed to promote organic farming. “Encouraging organic cultivation is part of the good agricultural practices. The government has already announced its plan to bring 50,000 hectares under organic farming in the state,” he says.