Convention wants comprehensive organic farming policy in state
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 23:49
MINATI SASMAL | BHUBANESWAR
The Organic Farming Association of India’s (OFAI) fourth biennial convention 2012 concluded here, on Wednesday. It was inaugurated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, on Tuesday who had stated that Odisha is in an advantageous position to resort to organic farming practices.
OFAI secretary Dr Claude Alvares while addressing a Press conference at the OUAT said that the convention recommended scaling up from the current 80,000 hectares of land to at least 5 lakh hectares for organic farming in the coming two years. The convention also recommended that Odisha come out with a comprehensive organic farming policy that would help the State maintain its all-India lead in organic production. This should be done in three months. Odisha should move urgently from “default” organic to “conscious” organic within three years, which is possible, said another recommendation.
Others including OFAI president Saradman Patel and Living Farms member Devi Sarangi were present at the news conference. The convention was attended by members of the OFAI, Living Farms and organic farmers from several States. The OFAI is the only organisation of practising organic farmers in the country. More than 600 organic farmers attended the convention, which is used as an occasion to spread consciousness and awareness of organic farming. Chief Minister Patnaik used the occasion to refer to a slew of measures proposed to encourage organic farming in the State. He announced setting up of organic seed banks and a separate certification agency for organic produce, besides support for farmers harvesting certified organic produce.
This has been a longstanding demand of the organic farming community. Patnaik said organic farming is being included in the syllabus at the school level and would also be made a compulsory subject at both the degree and postgraduate degree levels in the State agricultural university.
This has also been an association demand. In addition, Patnaik referred to the setting up of vermi-hatcheries, provision of green manure seeds and bio-fertilisers. The Chief Minister felicitated four persons and organisations for their pioneering works for conservation of traditional seeds. They were George Antony of Kerala, Prakash Raghuvansi of UP, Debal Deb of West Bengal and SusamaSahu on behalf of SVA, Odisha. He also released a new information-packed book on GMOs and why they need to be kept out of India. Well-known scientist Debal Deb, who has protected and propagated more than 800 traditional varieties of rice, made a special presentation at the convention on his work with rice varieties.
He has his two acres of farm of rice conservation in Bissamcuttack block of Rayagada district. Regional Manager Oxfam India Shaik Anwar said, “Similar organic small-holder networks need to meet more often to discuss various issues related to scaling up of organic farming in Odisha. He also recommended Odisha Agriculture Department to allocate at least Rs 200 crore towards input subsidy, marketing of organic products, aggregating small holders into their cooperatives including capacity building – Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY), a Central assistance special budget for agriculture. The convention encouraged demonstrations of effective organic farming techniques on both days. All organic farming NGOs in Odisha supported this convention. The NGOs sent several Adivasi organic farmers belonging to their organisations to participate in it. The convention is expected to provide a fillip to the organic movement in the State, especially as a tool for better incomes for small and marginal farmers.
The convention recommended scaling up from the current 80,000 hectares to at least 5 lakh hectares for organic farming in the coming two years. It also recommended that Odisha come out with a comprehensive organic farming policy that would help the State maintain its all-India lead in organic production. This should be done in three months. Odisha should move urgently from “default” organic to “conscious” organic within three years, which is possible. The State should provide as much or equivalent support for organic farmers as it is presently giving to chemical farmers, said another.