Archive for the ‘News’ Category

How do you know your organic food is really organic?

As the organic food market expands, fruit and vegetable suppliers are under pressure to supply more, and some of them are taking shortcuts. The principles of organic farming are difficult to follow when the volumes are big, trade insiders say.

“The demand is growing exponentially. Retailers want volume and variety and growers are forced to use chemicals and pass off their products as organic,” a major supplier to organic stores in Bengaluru told DH.

Himachal to be natural farming state by 2022: Guv

Governor Acharya Devvrat said the Himachal government would train about 50,000 farmers under natural farming in the financial year and hoped that Himachal would emerge a natural farming state by 2022.

He was presiding over a workshop on Subhash Palekar Natural Farming under ‘Prakritik Krishi Khushal Kisan Yojana’ organised by the Agriculture Department at the YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni.

Propitious organic industry in India

It is rightly quoted that Healthy citizens are the greatest assets any nation can have. For any country to prosper, it’s a prerequisite to have healthier citizens, who can contribute immensely to its development. In India, numerous efforts are being made to promote sound health and enhance quality of life among the citizens of the country.

Due to the collaborative efforts of the Indian government and various institutions, the number of people striving for a healthier lifestyle has grown by leaps and bounds. Consequently, all the other dependent industries have also witnessed a sudden surge. Organic industry is one such promising industry that holds colossal potential within it, especially for the people driven to invest in this market.

Farming a wonder It’s slice of nature in this couple’s Acres

Nature lovers, Satish Gowda and his wife Ganavi, both post-graduates in Coffee Quality Management from Coffee Board of India, are on a mission to promote organic farming in Chikkamagaluru. The farm maintained by Satish has inspired many to set-up organic farms on the same lines.  It’s not only organic farming for which the farm has become famous, it is also the abode for numerous birds and grazing animals which go in search of fruits. Photographers love the place as they can easily sight the birds which perch on trees. The Organic farmers association has done its bit to popularise the spot by bringing foreign national to have a close look at the farm and learn the tenets of organic farming. M.B. Girish explores this unique farm which is any nature lover’s delight

New job market for ‘farmers’ is offering attractive salary, free food, accommodation & much more

A Facebook advertisement said ‘Wanted Farmers’. It added, “Dear farmer, need your support to produce healthy food for the society. Join hands with us to offer healthy & better life”.

The pay package is undoubtedly very ‘attractive’, taking into consideration the financial crisis that small & marginal farmers are facing in India.

The ad, which was released on behalf of the Tamil Nadu-based Keeraikadai said the interested farmers are given an annual package of Rs. 1.80 to 2.40 lakh. Also, they will get free food as well as accommodation.

No country for regulation – of genetically engineered crops

India’s seed market hides a sea of illegality, which keeps rearing its ugly head every once in a while. The discovery of genetically modified (GM) brinjal in a Haryana farmer’s field is the latest in the list of illegal seeds that have cropped up in India since 2001. That year, it was illegal Bt cotton (a genetically-modified, pest-resistant plant cotton variety); in 2009 it was illegal herbicide-tolerant (H) cotton; a few years later, it was a newer version of Bollgard cotton, or BG 3 as its locally called, and in 2017, a herbicide-tolerant (HT) soybean. All this without official approval from the regulator and enforcer of the law for genetically-engineered crops in India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).

This situation puts the role of the GEAC (formerly Genetic Engineering Approval Committee) squarely under the scanner. An apex regulatory body, with powers to take punitive action when needed, under the Environment Protection Act (EPA), the GEAC seems to have turned a blind eye to these developments.

Kerala’s Organic Farmers Association wins international award for innovative farming methods

Kerala’s Jaiva Karshaka Samithi (Kerala Organic Farmers Association) has won Organic Medal of Honour, conferred by International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) Asia in South Korea, in association with Xichong Municipal corporation based in China, reported The News Minute.

The award will be presented on May 30, in Xichong China. The award comes with a certificate, gold medal and prize money worth USD 5,000, i.e., Rs 3.5 lakh.

Jaiva Karshaka Samithi was formed in 1992 by a group of environmentalists in ‘One Earth One Life’ with leadership from famous ecologist Shri John C. Jacob, naturopathy doctor Dr C.R. R. Varma and expert in Organic Farming Shri K.V Dayal, and the association won this global recognition for their work in innovating organic farming methods and for scaling up production.

MP farmer grows chemical-free food in 5 layers, earns millions from just 2.5 acres

Born to a family of beetle farmers who made a living from beedi-making in the village of Tilli in Sagar district of Bundelkhand, he wanted to pursue a medical degree to help people around him to lead healthy lives. But during the preparation for AIIMS, he realised it wouldn’t help him attain his objective.

“Many who enter the profession have their own aspirations like building a better life, drawing a hefty annual package or setting up a private facility. I realised it wouldn’t be my best option to ensure better healthcare for people. I believed that a person’s health is directly connected to the food on their plate. So, my ambition became to help chemical-free food reach people’s plates.”

At the time, he was only 20, so his decision to quit his medical preparation drew the ire of family and friends alike.

Kodaikanal: Gandhi’s ideas come alive in organic farming

Kodaikanal: Often referred to as the princess of hill stations, Kodaikanal goes on with daily life with the tourism industry being the main pillar of its economy as hundreds make a living out of it. But there is more to all the serenity that the place has to offer.

The locals constantly draw their inspiration for finding answers to questions about the purpose of life from the ‘great soul’ who constantly made us think during his lifetime – Mahatma Gandhi.

The Indian Nirman Sangh has been spreading the words of Gandhi and making a difference in so many lives. David Barun Kumar Thomas, the founder of the organisation, has been instrumental in this regard as he had drawn inspiration constantly through his extensive reading on Gandhi. The Gandhi farm run by him has served as a learning centre for many- participants – both women from the self-help groups under the organisation and people from near and abroad.

Quits cushy US job to go organic, transforms farm into 10-acre food forest!

About a three hour drive north east of Mumbai lies a 10 acre land that belongs to Gaytri Bhatia’s family.

The plot has been christened Vrindavan Farm, after the ancient forest in Hindu mythology where Krishna spent his childhood days.

It isn’t just the organic food that Bhatia grows, which makes the journey of the farm interesting. It is her story.

When she first moved in, the land was predominantly a mango orchard with around 500 trees bearing seven varieties, with some coconuts, cashew nuts and black pepper crops.

Today, apart from being lush with mango trees, a number of other fruits like banana, papaya, mulberry, chikoo, pineapple, jackfruit, wild berries, cashew apples, heirloom tomatoes among others also grow on the farm. While some of the spices grown at the farm include turmeric, ginger, pepper, greens like lettuce, baby spinach, basil, native sorrel, moringa, amaranth and vegetables like doodhi, papaya, pumpkin, tomatillos, brinjal, yam, lemongrass are also grown at the farm.

Nestle announces foray in organic food category

World’s largest food and beverage company Nestle India on Friday said that it has forayed into the organic food segment. This comes in line with the leading packaged food company’s innovation strategy at bagging new consumer opportunities and to strengthen its food and nutrition portfolio.

The food and drink company will launch three products in the organic food category which comprises an organic variant of Ceregrow (Nestle’s cereals brand for children).

80 school kids in 2 Maharashtra villages turn organic farmers, create amazing impact!

The school bells ring and hoards of students race out in a frenzy. The usual rush, however, is not to head home or the fields for a quick play session.

It is to reach the community centre to toil in the farm, where organically grown produce flourishes under their care.

Be it vibrant flower plants like marigold, periwinkle and hibiscus, or vegetables and fruits like tomato and brinjal, schoolgoing children aged  6-14 are cultivating a healthy tomorrow in the Dhakale and Golivane villages of Kolhapur, Maharashtra.

The green revolution, that had begun in a small patch of land near the community centre in the Hatkanangale taluka, has now spread far and wide, into larger fields as well as the homes of the villagers.

Efforts on to make Nagaland organic state

Dimapur, May 14 (EMN): In an effort to make Nagaland an organic State, department of Agriculture has demarcated 1700 ha area of land as organic and undertaken necessary steps to identify specific crops in each district for organic certification in phase-wise manner.
This was stated by the Additional Director of State Agriculture department, Kevikhu Achumi, during an orientation course on ‘Soil health management’ on May 11, jointly organised by the department of Agricultural Extension, SASRD: Nagaland University, in collaboration with Fertiliser Association of India (FAI) Eastern and Southern Region at SASRD: NU, Medziphema campus

To tide over agrarian distress, tribals diversify, sow organic brown rice, Jasmine & mangoes

Amid growing concerns over agrarian distress, 40 tribal farmers from Peth, a remote tribal area in Nashik district, have come up with a novel way to hedge their losses and make money.

In a region where nearly 90 per cent of the population is tribal, exclusively growing rice, tur and ragi as a means of sustenance, these 40 farmers have floated a self-help group and started growing Jasmine flowers and mangoes of almost every variety on a commercial scale. Apart from using the latest agrarian techniques to improve productivity, the group is also using novel marketing techniques to sell their produce.

‘Bt Brinjal’ turns out to be different genetically modified variety

In a new twist to the illegal Bt Brinjal cultivation story in Haryana, the state’s horticulture department said that samples collected by them have tested negative for the CRY 1AC gene and the EE 1 event of Bt Brinjal, but tested positive for three other gene markers.

This essentially means that the contamination has not happened from Mahyco’s Bt Brinjal that has the CRY 1AC gene and is being commercially cultivated in Bangladesh since 2013.

The contamination may have taken place through other varieties of genetically modified (GM) brinjal, which also protect against the fruit and shoot borer pest (a persistent problem in the brinjal crop).

Pesticide poisoning inspires Odisha teacher to go organic, save 700 rice varieties

The incident dates back to the early 90s. But retired teacher and octogenarian paddy farmer Natabar Sarangi remembers it as though it were yesterday. After 32 years of service as a government school teacher, the man had turned to his ancestral profession of farming in a 3.5-acre land. He had inherited 1.5 acres from his family and acquired the remaining two over time.

This was also the time when the Green Revolution was at its peak. With the dawn of mechanisation in agriculture, the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides was incessant.

Tree Man of India is leading the charge against global warming, one tree at a time

In the residential neighbourhood of Virugambakkam in Chennai, a 52-year-old carries saplings, packed in milk packets, to deliver to households. He will give the saplings for free; his only request – plant the sapling and take care of it.

Gopal Mullaivanam has made former late President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s ‘Green Kalam Project’ his life mission, though he has been distributing plants to people free of charge for a long time now. Gopal’s vision is to plant trees and help reverse some of the effects of global warming, and with this mission, he started the ‘Tree Bank’ in Chennai in 2008.

Popularly known as the ‘Tree Man of India’, Mullai says, “There are blood banks, eye banks, and other banks for the needy. So why not a ‘Tree bank’ that can protect the environment? Trees give us oxygen to breathe free, and we should repay this by planting more trees.”

Dr. Bronner’s helps bring better opportunities to farmers in India

Dr. Bronner’s, the family-owned and number one seller of natural soap in the United States, has just released a short film highlighting how they’re working to source organic, fair trade products, and create what they hope is a better agricultural system. “Journey to Pavitramenthe” is the second film in Dr. Bronner’s “Journey” series, and explores the lives and farms of organic mint producers in India’s Uttar Pradesh state. The company has been sourcing organic mint oil from the region since 2003, which is the key ingredient in many of its best-selling products.

Dr. Bronner’s has been recognized worldwide because of its socially and environmentally responsible practices. In 2005, the company made a shift towards buying the vast majority of its materials from organic and fair trade sources—today, they’re going further and advocating for regenerative agricultural practices for farmers and improving the livelihoods of rural farming communities.

Champion of organic farming felicitated

Saifabad: Dr Yadlavalli Venkateshwar Rao, who was awarded Padma Shri for his efforts in promoting organic farming, was felicitated at a program organized by IV Subba Rao Memorial Committee at a hotel in Lakdi-ka-pul on Sunday.

Apart from organic farming, his efforts to provide training in terrace farming, with a noble intention of providing unadulterated food to people who are living in urban areas.

Speaking on the occasion, Venkateshwar Rao said that many farmers were benefited by the mobile apps to help farmers join the organic farming revolution.

He said he tried to help farmers, who were facing problems due to lack of proper price for their produce, not only through his app Raithu Nestam, but also through special training programs. He dedicated the award to all those who have been working for the welfare of farmers.

Manipur farmers adopt integrated farming

Farmers in Manipur have been practising organic farming religiously. For many, this has become a sustainable source of income.

In the Northeast region, the new method of integrated farming (agricultural systems that integrate livestock and crop production) has yielded better production of crops for many.

“With an increase in population, there is also a need to produce more food. Instead of planting one crop, planting two or more crops yield double, which benefit the region.

Seeds from Bt brinjal trials not deposited with govt body

Amid fears of widespread contamination of local varieties by Bt Brinjal in Haryana, the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) said it had not stored any seeds of the genetically modified variety from field trials conducted before an “indefinite moratorium” was imposed on its commercialisation in 2010.

Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Pvt Ltd (Mahyco), a private seed developer, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) at Dharwad in Karnataka conducted the trials on Bt Brinjal and were in possession of the seeds.

Minutes of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) meetings held on February 17, 2010 and May 12, 2010 reveal that the committee decided that NBPGR would store Bt Brinjal seeds from all three seed developers and take affidavits from the company and institutions confirming that all seed stock has been deposited with NBPGR.

Wake-up call on proprietary seeds

When the news broke that PepsiCo was suing small farmers in India for growing a potato variety that is used in its Lay’s chips, popular sympathies immediately went, of course, to the farmers. National and international pressure swiftly mounted, and in short order a humbled PepsiCo backtracked, announcing its withdrawal of the lawsuit. There was global schadenfreude at Goliath’s PR disaster and, in India, pride at being on the side of the righteous Davids.

What should not be a source of pride, however, is the fact that so many small farmers are, like the ones targeted by PepsiCo, reliant, directly or indirectly, on proprietary seeds. Typically these seeds are grown in high input (fertilizer-pesticide-irrigation) environments that, over time, erode local biodiversity. Between the expense of buying these seeds and inputs, and the loss of the skills and social relationships needed to do otherwise (through the saving and exchange of seeds of indigenous varieties), small-scale farming looks set to continue on its downward spiral of lower income, status and dignity.

Call to boost traditional farming practices

Secunderabad: Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, the Executive Director of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and Expert Director of Sahaja Aharam Producer Company, has pointed out ground realities of farming and the distress in the rural farming communities, at a meeting organised by Rotary Club of Secunderabad.

His presentation focused on: Models of agriculture which are local resource and knowledge-based and economically and ecologically sustainaaable; Networking people and people’s organisations towards universalising agro-ecological approaches to farming rather than as exclusive production; and, Working on policy issues and building grassroot experiences into global campaigns and global issues into grassroot campaigns.

IFS officer powers his kitchen via biogas, gives fertiliser by-product to forest dept

Preaching is easy, we come across a lot of people who do that on a daily basis, but practising the same is something that very few actually do.

Kshitij Kumar, an IFS officer, deployed in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, is one who comes in the latter category.

At the government bungalow where he lives with his family, the kitchen needs are not met through LPG cylinders like most of the households across the country. Instead, the fuel is generated by an integrated ‘biodigester’, which has also been providing organic fertilisers, and pesticides to nurture the floral and kitchen gardens in his compound for the last two years.

New project in carbon farming launched in India

A new project will help farmers increase their income as well as store carbon in their soil. Starting with 20 farmers in two districts of Maharashtra state in India, the carbon farming project will compensate farmers for increases in soil organic carbon. These farmers follow no-till practices in growing rice and other cover crops.

The project is an initiative of Shekar Bhadsavale, a California-educated progressive farmer from Neral, and Emmanuel D’Silva, an agriculture and environment scientist from Mumbai who previously worked at the World Bank.

Bhadsavale has pioneered Saguna Rice Technique (SRT), a form of zero-till conservation agriculture, which has been accepted by over 1,000 farmers in several Indian states. D’Silva had initiated carbon credit programs through tree plantations in 44 tribal villages a decade earlier.