Organic farm shipments rise despite slipping acreage

AMRITA NAIR-GHASWALLA – MUMBAI, JAN. 21

Despite a decline in organically farmed land in India between 2009 and 2010, India’s export volume of organic produce has increased by 20 per cent.

New research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute has noted that India plays host to around 4,00,551 organic farmers and leads the pack of global certified organic farmers, followed by Uganda which has 1,88,625 farmers and Mexico which has 1,28,826.

Organic farming relies on ecological processes such as waste recycling and bio-pesticides and does not use chemical fertilisers.

Sixty-nine year old Jayant Barve is one such organic farmer. With 30 acres near Vita, 40 km from Sangli district in Maharashtra, Barve turned to organic farming in 1988. He practices crop rotation and uses organic manure and compost produced by worms.

EXPORT GROWTH

Incidentally, India’s organic exports almost tripled in value for the fiscal year 2011-12. The country exported 1,15,000 tonnes of organic products valued at $360 million in 2011-12, compared with the 70,000 tonnes valued at $130 million in 2010-11. Sector exports are set to double in the current fiscal.

“We are not bothered about the price of organic produce in the retail market or any marketing mechanism to export our produce. We are only concerned with the fertility of the soil. With each crop, we try to upgrade the soil,” said Barve.

Stating that sustainable food production is turning out to be increasingly important in India, given its growing population, Barve said: “Earlier I had several grape farms. Now, we grow pomegranates, mango, all the cereals, pulses, wheat and lots of sugarcane.”

Barve started with vermicompost as manure. Given the lay of the land, he moved on to organic manure which he now produces at a manufacturing unit at his farm in Vita. “We produce nearly 8,000 tonnes of organic manure and sell across Maharashtra, Rajasthan and even Tamil Nadu,” said Barve.

Farmers as far away as Tiruchi , Puducherry, Coorg (Karnataka) are ardent seekers of his organic manure, said Jayant Barve, who is also the founder of the Organic Farming Association of India.

ORGANIC GROWTH

The Worldwatch Institute report which has examined the growth of global organic agricultural practices, has said that despite a dip in 2009-10, the footprint of organic farms has trebled around the world since 1999 to 37 million hectares.

(Source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/agri-biz/organic-farm-shipments-rise-despite-slipping-acreage/article4329498.ece)