State to unveil comprehensive organic agriculture policy soon

CHENNAI, May 2, 2013

The State government will soon come out with a comprehensive organic agriculture policy, according to K. Ramasamy, Vice- Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU).

Addressing the launch of ‘SUSTAIN,’ a Public Private Partnership initiative to deploy innovative drying and storage technology to farmers, Dr. Ramasamy said here on Tuesday that various components of the policy, including the formation of a Department of Sustainable Organic Agriculture and establishment of a Directorate for Organic Agriculture, were under preparation and the policy was expected shortly.

On SUSTAIN, which envisages promoting sustainable agriculture and improvement of quality of life of farmers through solar drying and cold storage technologies, Dr. Ramasamy said the TNAU could assist in identifying suitable locations where the project could be rolled out across the State and in matching the right crop with the soil type.

According to Dr. Ramasamy, organic certification for products would help farmers’ collectives compete in the global markets and fetch much better prices, which in turn, would motivate them to achieve higher productivity. It was important that organic agriculture was not only environmentally sustainable but economically viable, he said.

SUSTAIN, a government-supported three-way partnership, will help farmers, over an 18-month period, install the equipment, transfer knowledge to empower participant farmers to train others and even establish market linkages. One of the farmer communities where the project is being introduced is in Theni, where banana cultivation is the mainstay. Around 100 farmers have been provided two solar dryers and three cold storage units free of cost on common farm land. Farmers are also trained to use the equipments and maintain them in proper working conditions.

The initiative involves DEG, a development finance institution in Germany, and two other organisations. The 3.21 lakh Euro (equivalent to Rs. 2.27 crore) funding for the project is shared by Bayer and DEG.

Isaac Emmanuel, Head-Business Development and Social Business Initiatives, Bayer Material Science (P) Ltd, one of the three partners in the initiative, said the project was being rolled out for the first time in India in Tamil Nadu.

Farmers’ collectives would be provided Solar Drying and Cold storage energy efficient farming technologies that would help generate new and value-added products.

Sreenivas Narayanan of ASSIST, an international NGO and the third partner, said the project was significant in the context of India losing almost 40 per cent or 59 million tonnes of all agriculture produce due to wastage and spoilage every year due to fragmented supply chain, inefficient harvesting facilities, lack of post harvest management solutions like proper cooling and drying facilities.

Keywords: Tamil Nadu governmentorganic agricultural policyTamil Nadu Agriculture UniversitySUSTAINstorage technologies