Will India subsidise organic farming inputs? Pasumai Vikatan editorial

After decades of pumping the soil of the country with toxic chemicals for intensive agriculture, India is making big strides in organic agriculture. As of 2010-11, the area under organic farming is 7.78 lakh hectares, according to statistics given to Parliament by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar (source: Lok Sabha questions). Compare this to the figure of 0.42 lakh hectares in 2003-04.

Eleven Indian states have policies to promote organic farming, and the value of organic produce is of the order of Rs.6,000 crores. Tamil Nadu farmers are also pursuing non-chemical methods vigorously.

In this context, the farm magazine “Pasumai Vikatan” has published an editorial in its June 10, 2012 issue. The following is my translation of this edit:

“The Centre takes a turn towards nature”

Green greetings to all.

Chemical fertilizers have been used in farmlands to pursue what is called a Green Revolution. Good yields were realised through such methods. Yet, after a certain point, the use of chemical inputs have completely diminished the productive capacity of the soil. The Centre has therefore decided to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and also provide subsidy for organic fertilizers.

This sensational policy has been announced in Parliament by the Union Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar.

Organic farmers, nature lovers and environmental activists have all been enthused by this announcement. At the same time, they are apprehensive about one issue. The question they ask is this: will the politicians encourage the production of organic fertilizer by the farmers themselves, or will this be confined to the corporate sector, with the accompanying commission-raj?

There is no necessity for farmers to purchase fertilizer or pesticide. Self-reliance for the farmers is achieved only when they use the biomass and leaf litter on their farm, and the manures of goats, cattle and poultry that are found around their houses. This is the conviction held by organic farming leaders like Nammalwar and Subhash Palekar. Tho positive experiences of those who had adopted the practices advocated by these leaders also speak for the philosophy.

If it is true that the government has decided to abandon chemicals-based intensive farming and turned to the organic way, the decision should be aimed at enabling the farmers to be self-reliant. Let us hope the Centre realises this and takes the appropriate decisions.

(Pasumai Vikatan is now available on the iPad and Android platforms which provides a brief preview of publications and a purchase option.)

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