UTTARAKHAND: Organic farming is paying rich dividends to farmers in parts of Uttarakhand. For instance, the income of Gopal Dinta (36), a farmer from Utpalta village of Chakrata area of Dehradun, has gone up by over 40% since he took to organic farming in 2017.
“I started out under the supervision of government officials from the Uttarakhand Organic Commodity Board. The officials guided us to reduce chemical usage in farming in phases, which helped me get a price of more than 40% than what I used to get. We are getting market access where we can sell our produces without any middleman,” says Dinta.
Around 4.5 lakh farmers are involved in organic farming. Officials are confident that these farmers will soon get economic as well as other benefits of organic farming. “The government is working to promote organic farming methods, which include traditional methods, in 6,100 farming clusters. This will add over 1.23 lakh hectares of farming area into the ambit of organic umbrella. This will ultimately have positive effect on the health of consumers too,” says Vinay Kumar, managing director of Uttarakhand Organic Commodity Board.
Uttarakhand has registered unprecedented increase in orvganic farming. The area being cultivated under new methods has increased by more than six times. In 2018, only 35,106 hectares were covered by organic farming, which has increased to 2.30 lakh hectares. Of the total 6.48 lakh hectares farmland in the state, 2.30 lakh hectares make around 34% of the entire cultivable area under the organic umbrella.
The state government set a target of 31% of the total agricultural land as organic by 2021 and further expanded it. In 2017-18, 35,601 hectares were under the organic farming umbrella, which rose to 1,24,365 hectares in 2018-19, 1,54,226 hectares in 2019-20 and 2,30,540 in financial year 2020-21. The produce includes pulses, vegetables, millets, wheat and many others seasonal crops.
Manohar Solanki, a farmer, says, “Normal rajma is sold for `80 per kg while our product goes for `120 per kg. The ‘Organic Uttarakhand’ outlets run by the board buys our produce and facilitates to sell our produce directly in markets of Delhi and Mumbai through NGOs and other organisations.”
Agriculture Minister Subodh Uniyal says Uttarakhand is the first state to have a law on organic farming. “The state accounts for around 40% of all organic farming in the country. We want Uttarakhand to be a model state in that respect.” Uttarakhand framed a law — the ‘Organic Agriculture Act 2019 — to promote the new technique. This imposes a fine of `1 lakh and a prison sentence of one year for those who violate the law, which restricts use of chemical fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides in blocks notified by the government.