Uttarakhand, Sikkim ahead in organic farming

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Dec 7 | Updated: Dec 12 2007, 01:36am hrs
The total certified area for organic farming in the country is low at only one million acre, while about 60% of the crop land is un-irrigated, rain-fed, and organic by default.

Uttarakhand, Sikkim lead in organic area followed by Rajasthan, Maharastra, Karnataka, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh. Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam have begun the process of getting areas certified organic.

The newly elected president of the International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture (ICCOA), Mukesh Gupta said that this was due to the fact that the state governments concerned have not come forward to get these areas certified. Gupta commented that, There is no problem as per global standards. The problem is with Japanese standards, which do not recognise the use of the bio-pesticide, neem as organic.

He said proper marketing linkages need to be established to market the produces at a premium price. He said at present only 5,00,000 farmers have been certified as organic farmers, while it should have been higher.

Gupta said the certification cost for an individual farmer is Rs 10,000 a year, the the cost per farmer per year through group certification would come down to about Rs 500.

Gupta added that the US and European norms suggest a 1-year conversion period even for traditional organic farmers, which means after paying fees for certification, he has to wait for 1 full year. Another problem is that farmers in a specified group have to sell their produces to one certified buyer through a single contract.

Indias export of organic produces stood at only Rs 300 crore. In this context, Gupta suggested the creation of a domestic market for boosting organic produces. He said that 5-star hotels and the retail chains should take the lead in marketing organic produces in the country.