CHENNAI: Emphasising the importance of turning to organic farming, Agriculture Minister MRK Panneerselvam on Saturday announced that the noble project of Organic Farming Development Scheme would be implemented in Tamil Nadu from this year.
He said farmers who adopt organic farming techniques would be encouraged with inputs subsidy.
Already, the government had announced that a separate wing for organic farming would be created in the Agriculture Department. Presenting the first exclusive budget for agriculture, the minister pointed out that indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has greatly reduced the prevalence of beneficial microorganisms and earthworms and affected the soil fertility and environment. As a result, people were affected by various health issues.
Panneerselvam said inputs for organic farming are essential and arrangements would be made at Agricultural Extension Centres. Quality control regulations would be enforced effectively to ensure the quality of organic inputs sold by the private shops. Also, measures would be taken to monitor the sale of products cultivated by using synthetic fertilizers at higher prices under the guise of organic farming.
The list of farmers practising organic farming would be compiled at block level and the farms would be certified as organic. To implement this, adequate awareness will be created among the farmers and training on organic certification will be provided. This project will be implemented at a cost of Rs 33.03 crore with Union and State government funds.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary C Samamoorthy, while explaining the salient features of the agriculture budget, said steps would be taken to reduce the cost involved in organic certification. He said for getting the certification, a farmer has to adopt organic farming methods for three consecutive years and in the next budget, the government would try to provide some subsidy to obtain organic certification.
Asked about the total allocation made for organic farming, the secretary said, "Around Rs.16 crore has been allocated. But more than the allocation, the measures being taken for popularising organic farming are important. Organic manure would be provided to the farmers through government depots."
The secretary also pointed out that organic farming could not be taken up on a piecemeal basis. If it is done in a piece of land alone, then the pesticide residue used in the nearby land would still affect organic agricultural produce. So, the government would be encouraging organic farming in clusters.
To undertake research on organic farming, a research centre in the name of Natural farming Scientist Nammazhvar would be created by expanding the existing Department of Sustainable Organic Agriculture at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore and Rs 3 crore would be allocated initially. The minister also announced that the government would recognise best performing farmers who register maximum production by adopting traditional practices and also the best performing exporters. Similarly, farmers who invent new agri techniques and machineries would also be encouraged with prizes.