Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Organic change

The need for change in our existing food production system to secure a sustainable future is increasingly being felt. India is unique with its large number of farmers and consumers and holds promise in achieving a food system which is socially just, economically feasible and environmentally sound.

Organic Farming is the most suitable and viable form of food production and is different from the conventional agriculture which emphasizes on maximising food production by using agrochemicals like fertilizers and pesticides. The result of continuous use of such inputs has been devastating on our health, soil, water and biodiversity.

Many of the poor farmers also gained little because of their lack of access to agricultural inputs and technologies which were mostly tailored to the rich farmers. Resource-poor farmers with small landholding and limited access to agricultural technology who didnt benefit from the Green Revolution stand to gain the most in this new transition.

The USDA Tweaks Its Definition Of “Organic”

Words like “organic” and even “free-range” are more marketing language than anything else, but now the Department of Agriculture has changed that a bit. A new rule establishes stricter USDA criteria for foods labeled “organic.”

The new rule won’t be completely implemented until March 2018, which gives farming operations time to adjust to the new standards if they want to keep their organic label. Under current standards, the label “organic” doesn’t have much to do with animal welfare. It basically just refers to restrictions on what the animals are fed and when they’re given antibiotics. Some consumers know this; others assume “organic” means animals are treated humanely. The change doesn’t necessarily mean “organic” meat will be healthier, but it makes the label a little less misleading.

Another species of bee added to the endangered list, almost wiped out by Monsanto

In case you thought that reporting on the rapidly diminishing number of bee colonies around the country was being over-hyped, this should tell you that prior warnings were spot-on, and indeed, prophetic.

For the first time ever, a rare bee species isbeing placed on the endangered species list, giving them special legal protections enshrined in U.S. code that, hopefully, will save them from extinction and billions of people from starvation.

As reported by Agence France Presse(AFP), U.S. officials with the Fish and Wildlife Service said in recent days that the decision was made following major declines in the rusty patched bumblebee population.

Monsanto, as weve reported in the past, has a hand in this. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say that the precipitous decline in the bee population is due to pesticides, disease and climate change (okay, so two of the three causes are real). The primary ingredient in Monsantos widely used Roundup herbicide, glyphosate, was tied to declining bee populations more than three years ago.

Neem oil is the strongest organic spray

BENGALURU: Who knew one could actually cultivate pomegranate on a roof top? A 39-year-old rooftop gardener, who has made it a point to eat poison-free food, grows his own fruits and vegetables. Sanjeev Jaganmohan Anand Rao also maintains a seed bank which presently consists of 70 varieties of native seeds.

Sanjeev believes in organic gardening, free of insecticides and pesticides. I dont use any kind of chemical, he says. I prefer pure, homemade pesticides such as sour curd for spraying on the plants. It will deter the insects. If sour curd is kept outside for a couple of days, the sourness in it will get rid of insects. Neem oil is my last resort. It is the strongest in the organic spray.

Empowering small-scale farmers through peer-review certification

Organic products are known to promote safety to human health and the environment. While demands have increased, organic products are still considered non-mainstream, partly because of limited supply and higher retail prices, which are around 20-30% more than farm products harvested using chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

One factor that drives up the cost of organic produce is the process of obtaining a organic certification. It usually costs farmers 10,000 baht upward for a sample to be sent to an international auditor that will officially brand, say, a pack of rice as “organic” . This limits the chance of small-scale, low-cost organic farmers to compete with rich companies. Organic products in Thailand are smaller than 1%.

ADB was once known for funding massive infrastructure projects, and has recently started promoting organic farming as a means to sustainable development and real economic-inclusive growth in the sub-region. ABD is a partner of the Promoting Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) for small-scale organic farming in Thailand, a project which aims to empower organic farmers through peer-review certification. Other partners include the Thailand Organic Agriculture Foundation (TOAF) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

Spinach in Hyderabad markets laced with insecticides

HYDERABAD: Spinach, well known for its rich iron content, comes laced with insecticides in Hyderabad as found by a study published recently by researchers from the Department of Entomology at Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University.

To carry out the study, researchers G Geetha and C Sreenivas, collected samples of spinach from three main vegetable markets Gudimalkapur, Mehdipatnam and Shamshabad. While around 11 pesticides were found in the spinach samples, around five pesticides were frequently found in all the sample: chlorpyrifos, triazophos, cypermethrin, deltamethrin + triazophos and profenophos.

Organic Farmers Market: Making Organic Produce Affordable

Partha and Rekha, who left their city jobs to become organic farmers, are now working to spread awareness on organic produce and make it accessible for all.

If you ask a farmer if theywould like theirchildren to take up theirvocation, 90% would say no. A majority of farmers dream that their children will find a salaried position rather than getting involved in the physical drudgery that is a part and parcel of farming life.

While it is true that farmers are frustrated and the area of cultivable land is decreasing, agriculture may be getting a new start. Overthe past fewyears, a number of young people born and educated in cities are trying their hands at farming.

Partha and Rekha, a couple, are a good example. Both are well-qualified and were working in a big city getting good salaries. But they were not satisfied with their work and worried by the regular illnesses that affected their only child. Based on advice from their family doctor to start eating organic food, the couple decided to leave their jobs and take up farming as full-time profession.

Since both were from traditionally agricultural families, access to land and crop-growing techniques were not difficult. But marketing their produce posed a big challenge. In their search for more information, they came across an organisation called Restore which buys and sells organic food.

All pesticides harmful; Govt bans only a few

The decision to ban 18 pesticides in India brings hope, but it should be extended to include all the pesticides which are banned or restricted elsewhere but are still used in India. The Centre has issued an order Banning of Pesticides Order, 2016 to ban manufacture, import, formulate, transport, sell and use of 18 of the 66 pesticides which are still registered for domestic use in India.

Largest Training Camps on Ecological Agriculture in Karnataka

By Amrita Bhoomi

Masses of people gathered together is not an unusual sight in India; this is common at religious events or political mobilizations. But to see thousands of farmers come together to attend a class on ecological farming is extraordinary. One such class is taking place at the Muruga Matha, a religious institution in southern Karnataka, where a five-day intensive study camp on a chemical-free farming method called Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) is taking place.

The Zero Budget movement has already organized some 100 such camps over the last decade in Karnataka state alone, with an average participation of a 1000-5000 farmers each.

Bengaluru goes healthy! Turns to safer, sustainable food alternatives

A few weeks ago, a dozen Bengalureans were brainstorming at an informal meetup. They were discussing food but not of the foodie variety . It was about the safety and sustainability of the food we eat. They called themselves the Karnataka Alliance for Safe Food.

This meetup is just one indicator of Bengalureans’ engagement with safer foods.

Safe’ and `sustainable’ go hand in hand in the context of food.Naturopathy physician Dr Achyuthan Eswar believes safe or sustainable food is what you grow and eat to stay healthy and for the land (in which it grows) to be healthy .

By extension, it also means healthier livestock.

PAN India welcomes Pesticide ban order

The decision to ban 18 pesticides in India brings hope, but it should be extended to include all the pesticides banned/restricted elsewhere and still used in India

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) India welcomes the decision by Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, to ban manufacture, import, formulate, transport, sell and use of 18 of the 66 pesticides which are still registered for domestic use in India but banned or restricted in one or more other countries due to health and environmental concern. The decision to ban the 18 pesticides came following the ban recommendation given in the report submitted by the expert review committee constituted under the chairmanship of Dr. Anupam Varma and by considering the observation from Registration committee of the Central Insecticide board and Registration committee.

SC orders pesticide payout

New Delhi, Jan. 10: The Supreme Court today ordered the Kerala government to pay Rs 500 crore within three months to over 5,000 people who lost family members or suffered deformities and other health complications from the use of endosulfan pesticides.

A bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar also expressed the hope that the government would consider the “feasibility of life-long treatment” for such victims.

After paying the compensation to 5,227 people, the court said the state “was at liberty to take necessary measures to recover” the sum from the Union government “through appropriate proceedings”. The Centre had cleared such pesticides.

The order by the bench, also comprising Justices N.V. Ramana and D.Y. Chandrachud, came on a PIL by the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI). The CPM’s youth wing had filed the plea in 2012, complaining about the adverse effects of endolsufan and its extensive use by farmers across the state despite it being banned globally because of the health risks it posed.

Over 5000 Organic Farmers Are Reviving Traditional Crop Varieties

Did you know that India once used to have over 100,000 varieties of rice? Some fifty years ago, these varieties abounded in the country. Now, however, only 6000 odd local varieties remain and not all are grown. This diversity can be experienced when one visits remote rural corners of the country.

Students grow organic food in UAE

Students, teachers and parents of an Indian school in Ajman have produced 1,500kg of vegetables in the school’s farm last year, utilising more than an acre of cultivable land developed in the desert environment.
Habitat School, a two-year-old Indian school in Ajman, recently made its third harvest in two years, in which students and teachers reaped various vegetables they planted a few months ago. The school has more than 6,000 students and two more schools belonging to the group are encouraging campus farming.
The school with a spacious campus and a farm introduced the idea of including agriculture to the school syllabus. Within two years, the students have already produced 3,500kg of corn, snake gourd, ribbed gourd, bitter gourd and other items. On Thursday, they plucked more vegetables making the total yield during the year around 1,500kg.

Pesticide levels in soft drinks too high

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Wednesday came out with a new report on the levels of pesticides in soft drinks available in the market.

The report indicated the presence of an average of three to five different pesticides in all the samples, 24 times higher than the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) norms, which have been finalised but not yet notified.

The latest CSE study is based on tests conducted on 57 samples of 11 soft drink brands from 25 different manufacturing plants of Coca-Cola and Pepsico, spread over 12 States.

Notebandi takes the sauce out of Nashiks tomatoes

On Christmas morning, barely 24 hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation of the Rs. 3,600 crore Shivaji statue in Mumbai, Yashwant and Hirabai Bendkule were slashing and uprooting the tomato vines on their farm in Dhondegaon village of Maharashtras Nashik district, just 200 kilometres away.Since over a month, tomato prices have collapsed. Even leaving the crop standing means a loss for us, Yashwant muttered, explaining why the Adivasi couple was destroying a perfectly good crop,in which they had invested over Rs. 20,000 and family labour. They will sow wheat in the cleared land. At least we will have food to eat in the summer, Hirabai said.

New Year, New Trends

It is the New Year 2017. The world now harks back to the beginning of civilization and culture and agriculture itself looking back to the times of Cain and Abel, gathering fruit from the forests and tending to animals organically. The concept of food forests and analog forestry is getting popular as the era of chemicals-based industrial agriculture and battery farms recedes to the background.

Farmers Notebook: New Farming App to Help Farmers

A group of scientists at the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU), working at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) Malappuram have developed a new mobile application named FEM@Mobile for agriculture.

The application contains information about 100 crops included in the package recommended by KAU. It is available on the Google play store under the key word KVK Malappuram or FEM@Mobile and can be downloaded for free.

The specialty of the tool is its simplicity. Further, it is available for free. The size of the application is below 1,000 kb. Hence, users can freely download the application on their smart phone. The application can also be download from the site www.farmextensionmanager.com.

Organic farming gains ground in Sundargarh

SUNDARGARH:Active use of indigenous seeds and organic products in various gram panchayats (GPs) of Balishankara and Sadar blocks has prompted the Agriculture Department to consider including the blocks in Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana.

Several tribal farmers of the two blocks have been experimenting with indigenous seeds and organic farming with help from Sundargarh-based Centre for Integrated Rural and Tribal Development (CIRTD). For the last couple of years, several farmers clubs comprising around 1,050 members through seed exchange fairs have also been promoting use of indigenous seeds, organic manure and pesticide.

Goa Govt Pays Farmers to Go Organic

Its a sunny day at Rosie and Peter’s Kitchen Garden and Food Forest in Anjuna, a village in the coastal state of Goa, India.

Long after the harsh summer, a torrential coastal monsoon, and the dreaded October heat have come and gone the farm reveals abundance. Verdant, almost overgrown, it requires careful navigating over ridges and mulch-covered trenches, to explore the interiors. Its hard to imagine that just nine months ago, this 26,000 square foot piece of degraded land was filled with with debris and junk. Today, it is home to over 45 varieties of vegetables and fruit (likely to double in the coming months), including tomatoes, spinach, red and green amaranth and roselle leaves.

Go native in your veggie garden

CHENNAI: In this health-conscious world, amateur gardeners are a growing tribe. And they need natural fertilisers and native seeds. But city stores usually keep hybrid or GM varieties. Enter Hariyalee Farm with 560 varieties of native seeds.

The farm is run by Varun Prabhakar, 28, a mechanical engineer who left his job in the US to do farming in the country. The farm practices Vedic method of farming.

Organic farming gives push to Palghar farmers

Palghar (Maharashtra): From travelling to Vasai which is 50 kms away to work as a farm labourer to owning a farm that earns him a livelihood and also feeds his family of 12, it has been a remarkable six-year journey for Pandu Kashinath Gagnde. And the magic mantra is organic farming, says the 42-year-old tribal from Vikramgad taluka’s Kondgaon village.

Thanks to the combined efforts of the Dr M L Dhawale Memorial Trust and the ISKCON temple that buys their produce, Pandu and 54 other farmers in the area have transformed their lives and their family members.

Sound way to keep wild animals at bay

Hyderabad:Sound engineers from Tollywood are stepping in to aid teams tackling elephant, Nilgai and monkey menace to habitations near forests. These engineers will help scientists of the All India Network Project of Vertebrate Pest Manage-ment, Prof. Jayashankar Telangana State Agriculture University, improvise the bio-acoustic techniques and amplify animal noises for this purpose.

A Date with Doug

An organic fashion label teams up with a UK college and women farmers of Maharashtra to stitch cloud-shaped bracelets as a symbol of cotton crisis in the region.

Indias first transgender school to focus on organic farming

Kochi: Transgender activist and artist Kalki Subramaniam inaugurated Indias first residential transgender school in Kochi on Friday. Sahaj International School, which will operate under the National Open School system, will initially have 10 transgender students. The school is considered as an Alternate Learning Centre for school dropout transgenders.

The school will have boarding facility. It will provide opportunities for soft skill training and organic farming