Ktakas New Policy To Monitor Soil Fertility

Bangalore, March 28 | Updated: Mar 29 2004, 05:30am hrs
The Karnataka government recently came out with a policy on organic farming, the first state in the country to do so. Recognising the importance of promoting organic farming, the government of India launched the National Progrmme for Organic Production in 2000 and came up with a national organic logo,Indian Organic.

The thrust from the government comes at a time when everyone is looking for alternatives to intensive agriculture, specially as the adverse effects of the Green Revolution, have started to show up prominently in states like Haryana and Punjab.

Intensive cultivation has resulted in serious environmental degradation, and health hazards to mankind, animals and biodiversity, notes the Karnataka policy.

The state aims to bring in practices that reduce the use of external inputs (specially chemical inputs that degrade the soil, and leach into the ground to pollute ground water), and improve soil fertility.

The policy has proposed to set up a state-level empowered committee under the chairmanship of the additional chief secretary and the Development Commissioner for monitoring and implementation of this policy. A mini mission on organic farming would also be set up. Headed by a scientist, it would advise the committee in framing technical guidelines, approval of projects, and monitoring of programmes.

At the micro level, the government is looking at SHGSs to take up activities such as production of quality compost/vericompost, organic seeds/planting mterials and plant protection material.

The shift to organic is proposed to be gradual, with just one village in each hobli going organic in a phased manner.

The policy expects to channel the organic produce through government marketing arms such as SAFAL, APMC, HOPCOMS (Horticultural Producers Cooperative Marketing and Processing Society) NCS, KAPPEC, KVIB which will have separate markets and storage areas for organic produce.

The government also plans to offer credit facility for organic farming at concessional rates of interest. Special line of credit and subsidised interest rates will be available through NABARD, RRBs, banks, and cooperative institutions.

To drive exports, the policy envisages dissemination of international market information and suggests assistance for processing, packing and storage.

The agricultural universities in the state will also be given the mandate to take up research in organic farming, and prepare package of practices for different agro climatic zones. There is also a proposal to offer degree courses in organic farming.

Children suffer from pesticide and chemical residues more than adults, says the policy and proposes to encourage the baby food industry to use organic inputs. This could also be done through contract farming, says the policy.

Currently, there is a movement silently taking place in Karnataka, the policy observes but this is more because farmers want to reduce external inputs and improve soil quality rather than in search of premium markets and better prices.