Chief Minister vows to develop Bangalore as Asia’s organic capital

Special Correspondent

He says Karnataka has great potential for organic farming

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Thursday vowed to develop Bangalore as Asia’s organic capital and Karnataka as India’s organic hub.

Inaugurating the fourth edition of the three-day international organic trade fair titled BioFach India, being jointly organised by the Nuernberg Messe of Germany, International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture (ICCOA) and the Karnataka State Agriculture Department, here, Mr. Shettar said the fact that international organic events were being held frequently in the Garden City was an indication that Bangalore was going to be the organic trade centre of India in the near future.

“With its rich biodiversity, crop diversity and horticultural excellence, Karnataka has a great potential for organic farming,” he said.

Three-pronged strategy

To develop the State as the country’s organic hub, the government had taken up a three-pronged strategy of helping farmers to adopt organic agriculture, providing market linkage and export opportunities for organic produce besides ensuring access to healthy organic food for people, and developing technologies for efficient organic cultivation as well as post-harvest management, he said.

Mr. Shettar expressed concern that indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides in the process of increasing food production had caused environmental degradation besides posing health hazards to people as well as animals.

In this background, achieving sustainability in agricultural production and increasing productivity, particularly in drylands, without harming environment had become a real challenge. There was a dire need to evolve programmes to address this issue, he said.

Listing various initiatives taken by the State government for bolstering organic farming, Mr. Shettar noted that the State had come out with an organic farming policy in 2004 itself while an Organic Farming Mission was set up in 2009. About 17,000 farmers had been benefitted by these programmes, he added. The former Union Minister of State for Agriculture Sompal, who is also chairman emeritus of ICCOA, cited a 1998 report by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research which said that nine important nutrients had been eroded from the soil due to mindless use of fertilizer and pesticides.

The only way to bring about sustainability in such a situation was by going organic, he noted.

Nuernberg Messe’s management board member Petra Wolf, its international events director Frank Venjakob, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements executive director Markus Arbenz and ICCOA executive director Manoj Kumar Menon also spoke.

Later, the Chief Minister released 16 organic products brought out by Bangalore-based organic agricultural company Phalada Agro Research Foundation Pvt. Ltd.

The fair, where various events are being held to create awareness among consumers and farmers about organic farming and organic produce, has 141 stalls, including those of 16 international exhibitors.