TNN/ Jayashree Nandi | Jul 2, 2012, 01.27AM IST
NEW DELHI: Dressed in a white kurta-pyjama Hukum Chand Patidar is no ordinary farmer. He has been practicing organic farming for quite some time now but his 15 minutes of fame came when he was recently invited by actor Aamir Khan to his chat show.
Khan called him to the show to highlight how an organic farmer can produce better and more quantity than those involved in chemical intensive farming. On Sunday, Patidar came all the way from a village near Jhalawar, Rajasthan to the capital to address urban consumers about impact of pesticide residues on health.
He and many other farmers, agricultural scientists, consumers, RWAs under the banner of Delhi Alliance for Safe Food had organized a weekend organic mela at Dilli Haat. The mela is part of a series of events as part of the ‘India for Safe Food’ campaign against pesticide residues in food. The campaign will send petitions to Union agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar demanding toxic-chemical free food for all.
“I was a conventional farmer till 2004. That year something dramatic happened in my farm. Many peacocks and animals at the farm started dying. I realized it was the pesticide that may have poisoned them. I was using a lot of monocrotophos which is very toxic for birds, and Endosulfan. I felt very guilty and the event completely changed the course of my work,” recollects Patidar.
Customers thronged to the stalls at the mela, but most said that organic products are expensive. “We are very concerned about pesticide residues and their health impacts but organic food is not as easily available. It’s also expensive. The government should subsidise organic produce” said Neena Jain.
However, member organizations of Delhi Alliance for Safe Food say there is an increase in demand for organic food in Delhi.
“The demand has gone up in the past few years. Globally the organic market is growing at over 300%. Even in Delhi, it’s not a niche segment anymore “said Ajay Mahajan, a member of the alliance and of Beej Bachao Andolan.