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Organic Farming to Bring Holistic Growth

If the government wants to steer India towards organic agriculture, there is a lot more it needs to do. 

Organic farmers and “swadeshi” voters are jubilant ever since the agriculture minister announced measures to promote agro-ecology and natural farming to accelerate inclusive economic growth in India. Even the staunch opponents of agro-ecology or organic farming are shyly falling in line, as the 2020-21 budget promise of raising organic farming to 20 lakh hectares and the stress on using natural fertilisers to reorient our food production system was reiterated.

Hopefully, an additional 5 lakh hectares, the target set by the Union budget, will be added in a year. This would be the beginning of a paradigm shift from the Green Revolution led by chemicals, hybrid seeds and fertilisers. This step is a potential win-win for farmers and the environment, which can drastically reduce the Rs. 80,000 crore fertiliser and pesticide subsidy.

The government wants to hit the road not taken and steer India towards a pioneering role in organic agriculture and organic food export. APEDA has estimated that India’s organic food export will go up to US$ 50 billion by 2025 (Sikkim is already the world’s first organic state). Of course there are great challenges on the way, especially when we compare the figures of global acerage under organic cultivation, availability of organic farm inputs such as seeds, bio-pesticides, and training as well.

The big question is: will farm production fall in the shift towards organic farming? What about the impact on farmers’ incomes? These obstacles can be overcome as organic farms mostly produce their own manure, control agents and so on, and follow diversified multi-cropping cultivation. The economics of a diverse farm are completely different from a mono-culture-based farm. One acre of organic farms, especially for instance in the Doon Valley, have quadrupled farmers’ incomes and reduced input costs to almost zero over time. So along with organic farming, if we adopt organic systems, we can easily overcome the challenges for all of India.

The government should begin this journey by bringing in a new organic seed policy, because simply untreated (for instance with fungicides) seed is not “organic”. We need a framework for organic seed production that is based on advanced protocols of evolutionary participatory breeding (EPB). The Indian organic seed sector is still nascent, while globally the organic seed sector is burgeoning, and is pegged to reach $5.4 billion by 2024.

Organic seed production is well established in the United States and Germany, and both nations

Article Source: https://www.newsclick.in/organic-farming-bring-holistic-growth

Posted on Jun 06, 2020

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